I’d just like to start this post by saying sorry for a slight delay. It’s actually been a busy couple of days.
Leaving Siem Reap was actually a little harder than I expected it to be as I had found the city to be utterly amazing. So much of the countryside had absolutely taken my breath away with its beauty and the people who were completely hospitable, friendly and welcoming into their villages. I feel very privileged to have been able to work in these towns that otherwise if I’d come here as a tourist I would never have been able to see. We had organized a bus that took us from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh along Cambodia’s quite treacherous highways where, although most of the time traffic flowed quite smoothly through some towns, it sort of descended into chaos with traffic going wherever it decided to please. The journey itself took about 5 hours where I was just sitting watching the countryside go by and marveling at the very different lifestyle that Cambodian’s lead.
In Phnom Penh we had another five screens to install across different locations. I say locations, as two of the places that we installed screens in were non-government organizations, NGOs, that were orphanages that helped children whose parents were not able to look after them as best as they could. Having worked in child protection myself in New South Wales, I really value what NGOs can do to help lift children from poverty and keep them safe from what the reality is for a lot of these street children, is usually a lifetime of either crime, prostitution or drugs.
The locations we installed the screens in in Phnom Penh were:
- Metta Mission and Community School
- Northline School
- Santhormok High School
- Bek Chan UNACAS Orphanage
Whilst in the area we visited a number of schools that had screens installed in the previous visit by technology core. It was incredible to see how the screens had been used by these various schools in some surprisingly clever ways. In the pictures below you can see how one school, Koy Teb primary school had decided that the location we placed the screen in 2023 meant that not enough students and teachers were able to utilize the screen. What they did then was build their own mobile frame for the screen and mount the screen to their own mounting frame so that they can move the screen across the school. This was such a great idea for them as it meant the maximum number of classrooms could use the screen. I gave them the suggestion of building a PC mount that they could then install a PC connected to the screen. Have it connect to their Wi-Fi or hotspot to their phones which is something they often do, and then be able to have a connected PC to that screen wherever they take that screen too. The principal loved that idea and set to thinking about how they can make the stand fit into their own stand that they had made themselves. See the photos in this blog below for how creative this school has been in taking something and making it their own.
The gratitude that I’ve received from each school has been beyond measure. I’ve been very lucky to have also been taken to some amazing places for lunch from the principles or vice principles of the schools I’ve been working in as they have been so grateful for what they’ve been offered. Seeing the looks on the teachers that I’ve been training after we’ve installed the screens with using free and readily available tools such as jamboard, whiteboard or even some basic websites and not to forget HDI note that is installed on the screens, as they realize the potential that these software apps offer has been extremely gratifying.
One of the things Technology Core has always been proud of has been the training that we offer our customers. This has not been any different while I’ve been in Cambodia as with each install myself and Veasna, Will run a training session to explain both how to use the screen using the inbuilt software and the potential offered when connecting a PC. It’s interesting to see the differences in some of the teachers between those who think HDI note and just basic whiteboarding is enough for them and those that want to go deeper and use things like whiteboard. Jamboard and the other websites that we often offer during our training. So many teachers come up to me afterwards to say thank you but also to say how they think they might use the screen going forward. During a major training session at Santhormok high school where we had maybe 50 teachers attend, one teacher made it very clear that the way they teach in Cambodia is different to the way that we might teach in Australia. He explained that the technology such as PCs and smart screens don’t fit in with the very direct and rote learning style of teaching that they do in Cambodian schools. Initially, he was almost quite upset with the things that I was showing him and once I explained to him that I’m not there to change the way he teaches, but to show a potentially different way of adding to the way he teaches, his mindset completely changed. He then asked me how I could use PowerPoint using the screen and I showed him the gesture control as well as being able to mark up on PowerPoints and he said that would be what he would do. It’s those simple things that happen when I’m doing training with a lot of teachers and especially here that makes doing what I do all worthwhile.
With the finishing of the training at Santhormok, I have to admit I felt rather down as that was the end of what has been one of the best experiences of my life. However, I wasn’t quite finished there, as when I walked downstairs into the main yard there was a group of men playing petanque and as I watched them play they asked if I’d like to have a go. Quite willingly I joined in and played a game with Veasna, where we each partnered with one of the locals and in a game that I had never played before, I was very pleased to have won with my partner 11-0 against Veasna’s team. The man who was partnering Veasna was quite put out that he was beaten by a team with someone who had no experience playing the game. As we walked away my partner was killing himself laughing at the other man and Veasna told me that he was telling the other man haha. You were beaten by someone who had no idea how to play the game.
It’s interactions like that that has made this visit and this country so incredible and I will do everything I can to try and get back here again next year even if it means I represent the company in any way I can. I will give more detailed explanations of some of the installs in other posts and other interviews that you might find on our social media and YouTube sites. So please look out for those. If there is any way you would like to contribute to ACC, please go to their website to donate or contact us and we will put you in touch with them as any assistance will be gratefully received.