Because Laitheam really wanted to learn.
It was a nice change after the first week of my teaching practicum, which proved to be exhausting and frustrating. There, I had stood in front of a group of students who wanted to be anywhere but. I was just another new face through their revolving door which opens for new teachers every two weeks. And they were all over the map in terms of English competency – some were clearly advanced, but others didn’t even know how to read a single word.
It didn’t help that I hadn’t chosen to be in this class either, I was assigned to it. My goal with the TESOL (should we ever actually settle down to use it!) will be to focus on adults or one-on-one tutoring, but my request for such an assignment wasn’t met. And when the students adamantly proved to not want to be there too, well, that fed into my frustration. I did the best I could, but I am sure my lack of inspiration showed.
I first sat beside Laitheam and asked her to write down as much as she could about why she wants to learn English.
I learned about her life, her aspirations, her love for her family and country. Laitheam left her home to live with her uncle in Phnom Penh on a scholarship to learn English and attend university. She is an incredible role model and a beacon of hope for the people in her poor community.
I’ve met few people in my life as dedicated as she is. She helped me regain my inspiration for teaching English.
That evening I came home and found an email from Laitheam in my inbox. It exactly read:
I would like to thanks again for English lesson…. I want to tell you that, you are fantastic teacher for me!!
My impact on her journey may have been small, but hers on mine was enormous. Forgotten were the frustrating days in the classroom with students who didn’t want to learn. Here was a student who had passion and appreciated what I had to offer.
Laitheam’s compliment is one of my proudest achievements yet.
My time spent tutoring a local was a requirement for the TESOL program, which I worked on in co-operation with Language Corps. All opinions, as always, are my own.
Many thanks to our friend Tammy for the introduction to Laitheam.