Another day, another dollar

Much as Garrison Keillor always began, ‘Well, it’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon’, I could always start ‘Well, it’s been a hot week in Siem Reap.’

Despite the heat, the children race around just like children everywhere.

These girls play rope-jumping before school, and can jump it at incredible heights by flicking it with their toes and then twisting over it like a cartoon contortionist.

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I’ve been more ambitious with my art teaching, and we progressed to paints this week to produce pictures of the fish in Tonle Sap lake.

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And my maths is coming on a treat.  This week we tackled fractions

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and while I’m fairly sure I got them all right (there’s no answer book!) I’m a bit hazy on explaining how to do it.  Luckily if I tell them their answer’s wrong, they just accept it and don’t ask why.

One of the brightest little boys in the morning class arrived with his head shaved on Monday.

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This is the tradition when there’s a death in the family, and he explained that his 21 year-old brother was killed on his motorbike last week, when a car ran into the back of him.  I don’t know whether he was wearing a helmet or not, but a lot of them don’t.  This little chap has now taken to sitting with James, one of the American students visiting this week, so perhaps feels that James is a substitute older brother.

As the school was set up by a British couple, they have a child protection policy, which is apparently quite unusual over here.  They gave me a copy to sign, but it was rather difficult to decipher as it’s been produced by someone who obviously thinks that using the space bar is an unnecessary indulgence.

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I’m starting to learn a few words of Khmer, and it’s a salutary lesson for a language teacher, as we can sometimes be a bit hard on kids who have trouble with pronunciation.

I wanted to learn a few essential phrases, like ‘be quiet’, ‘sit down’ and ‘don’t be silly’, particularly for use with the afternoon class, and some of the sounds are very difficult.  I can’t hear exactly what sound they’re making, and when I think I’m imitating them exactly, they howl with laughter at my mispronunciation.  One sound, which is like half a swallow right in the back of the throat, is totally impossible and I’ve given up on it, because it makes me look and sound like someone who’s just accidentally swallowed a gobstopper.

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