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Harriet Pringle & Jamie Toms

Amok around the clock: A day in the life of an intern at GVI Cambodia

The life of an intern with GVI Cambodia has been, and continues to be rewarding, dynamic, and very good fun. At first, it was difficult to adjust to the Kampong Cham way of life; the heat and humidity was a real struggle, and Cambodian monsoon storms provided a stark contrast to English drizzle! However, now we have really settled in and have developed a daily routine through which we really thrive.

Sunset by the riverside.

We usually wake up around 7:30 – 8am (depending on how late the previous night was) and go downstairs to have breakfast with the other volunteers. Before our classes teaching monks at the pagoda, we’ll quickly look over the lesson plans again and gather any last-minute resources. These classes are still fairly new to us, having taught them for just two weeks. The pagoda is beautiful, the grounds decorated with gorgeous Buddhist structures, the walls adorned with intricate carvings depicting dancing Apsaras (a Khmer goddess) and scenes from Buddhist religious lore. We’re always excited to go teach the monks, despite the roller-coaster like tuk tuk ride provided by the wonderful, friendly and enigmatic Mr. Bhut. Following morning classes, we go back to base where we plan for tomorrow’s lessons.

Jamie teaching his monks class.

Some unique aspects of the internship programme here with GVI include a leadership module and our individual research projects. Jamie is researching and creating a booklet on the survival of Cham culture, the largest minority group in Cambodia (and namesake of the town). I (Harriet) am conducting research into the significance of the large array of national holidays in Cambodia. Following lesson planning we have time to knuckle down with our projects and get some work done -an iced coffee or two is almost certainly involved too!. Next up is lunch where the real hard work begins – do we have the chicken amok three days in a row?!? The answer is invariably yes! With a bit more time dedicated to our projects, its 2:45pm before we know it and its time for classes at Happy Happy!

Happy Happy is great fun. The students are very enthusiastic, all clamouring to be the first to answer. The classes are split into two; Jamie takes the younger students and I take the older ones. Each class starts with tooth-brushing to help educate the kids on the importance of hygiene. Once that’s done, the students return to their seats and break into the chorus “Hello teacher how are yOU!!’” The class is vibrant, the students engaged, excited, eager to contribute and smart as a whip – an absolute pleasure to teach.

Whilst teaching colours we created hand flowers!

After bracing the heat for several hours, by the late afternoon its time for another cold shower which you’ll get used to craving. We have some chill time in our rooms and usually go to dinner at 7pm at Mekong Crossing where we’re met with music to our ears – “how many draft beers?” Following yet another delightful yellow curry and perhaps a few card games later, its time for bed. Although the days can be tiring, we’re always surprised with how fast they go by, so make sure you make the most of your time and reflect on your experiences as you go along!

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