Friday, 27 April 2012

Chatting with Jimmy from Siem Reap, Cambodia

© Copyright Millie Brown 2012

In my previous blog post here I spoke about Jimmy Chan Sarath and the incredible work he does at the English school for children (Jimmy's Village School) that he founded and runs in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

I mentioned also that because of Jimmy's incredibly busy life we hadn't had the opportunity to sit and chat in more detail about his work, his school or his students.

I was intrigued by this young man who gives so much of his life to help others and naturally wanted to know a little more about him and the children...Jimmy very kindly gave me some of his precious time to answer these questions via email.

How did Jimmy's Village School come about and what were your initial objectives for the school and its students.

I wanted to help underprivileged Cambodian children with their education. The education  system in Cambodia still requires a financial contribution from the parents and many of the poorer children are unable to afford to complete their schooling. I was helped by my family and tourists to convert the front of the house into a school room.

How important is it for the children of Cambodia today to learn English?
I'm sure you understand that English is a universal language in commerce, science and engineering, not to mention tourism, and will be very important for the children's career prospects.

You mentioned to me that you also teach other subjects other than English to your students, what are these other subjects?

I try and teach them about things outside of Cambodia. General knowledge; such as culture, geography, history,...etc.... about the world around them.

© Copyright Millie Brown 2012
Students having fun while waiting for their class outside school

When I was at your school one day you mentioned to me that currently students in the school system are not being taught about the Khmer Rouge period of Cambodian history, why is this and do you think this will change in the future?

The recent history of Cambodia is no longer a taboo subject and from this year  onwards it is to be gradually introduced into the school curriculum. 

What sort of background do most of your students come from?

They are poor children from villages. Their parents are typically farm workers, cleaners, waitresses or street vendors - they live very hand to mouth lives.

© Copyright Millie Brown 2012
Boys at Jimmy's school ready to learn

How do the children enroll in your school?

They just turn up! They hear by word of mouth.

Are children in Cambodia taught English in the mainstream schools?

Yes they are.

What is the percentage of children receiving an education in Cambodia?

About 45% to 55 % of children do not get an ongoing education as they live in rural villages and have no transportation to get to school.

What are your future plans for Jimmy's School.

I would like to construct a new school building in the village on a new site. When I am able to get an overseas scholarship i will open an international school after my graduation.

How can others help you in achieving this goal?

They can help with cash donations and advice.

The children I met at your school were incredibly warm and receptive and  appeared very motivated to learn, are most Cambodian children as receptive?

They are probably just like children of any other nationality – although I expect  more eager to better themselves. Furthermore, we educate them more about morality.

© Copyright Millie Brown 2012
oops... turn those fingers the other way around guys!

They also appear to be very respectful and polite which is so beautiful to see..... in general how are children brought up in Cambodia, is it a very traditional upbringing?

Yes, in Cambodia children are very deferential towards their elders – it is a Cambodian tradition.

How would you describe life in Siem Reap?

Depends on who you are. For tourists its a pleasant destination. But I'm sure you will have noticed on the streets there is a big gap between the rich and poor.

How can future visitors to Siem Reap help out at Jimmy's School.

Through cash donations, their time and advice.

Do you have a website or an email address for interested people to visit and learn more about the great work you are doing?

I am on Facebook “Jimmys village school”. 
Telephone number: 855+(0) 92 847 265. 
Email: jimmysvillageschool@ 

© Copyright Millie Brown 2012

 Angkor Wat is breathtaking.

Just to change the subject matter a little and to give future visitors to Siem Reap an inside tip... can you share with us your 5 top things to do in Siem Reap?

Angkor Wat
Bakang mountain (You can see Angkor Wat from here)
The floating Village
Koulen Mountain
Visit Cambodian villages in the countryside

© Copyright Millie Brown 2012
Outside the lovely Golden Banana Hotel in Siem Reap (which I can highly recommend).

Thank you so much Jimmy for your time and for all that you do for the children in Siem Reap.

Millie xx

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