My name is Malaya, and I am one of the Khmer Teachers who teaches in Banan Village. I stay in Banan during the week teaching around 70 students who are in levels three and five. I am 24 years old. I have been a part of TASSEL for almost 4 years now. When I was young, I was taught the English alphabets by my father at home. However, my father’s English skills was very limited so I did not study much besides some easy words such as apple, pen, dog etc. There was a very good English school in my province that most people went to. The school fee was not very expensive at that time and was around 7US dollars a month, but it was still a lot for people who did not earn much. All my neighbors went to that English school, and they paid extra for the school bus to pick them up every day. I watched them get on the van daily, and told my parents I wanted to study English over there too. I told them I will ride my own bike as long as I could study there. I did not get to go to that English school until I was in fifth grade and my father had to sell some chickens in order to pay the fees. I remember being very excited when I got my first English text book that my aunt bought me. I still remember the first word that I learn which was ‘ear’, and also my first English teacher at that school. Her name was Sana and she was a big part of why I decided to become an English teacher.
When I was a sophomore, I was already teaching at a private school in Battambang, but one day Joji came to my university and presented TASSEL to us. He said he was looking for English teachers to teach poor children in rural parts of Cambodia. He talked about what TASSEL was and what they did. When I heard TASSEL’s main goal, which was providing English Education free of charge to poor children, it reminded me of myself when I was young and desperate to study English but could not. I thought to myself that at that time I wish there had been an organization like that at my village as well, so I decided to join TASSEL. I soon fell in love with the children in Banan. The students in this village have so much potential in them despite being so poor. They have big dreams but struggle to achieve them because they of their poverty. The public schools only provide 1-2 hours of English session a week to the middle and high school students. It is clearly not enough and, in addition to that, the unqualified teachers don’t really care about the students. Thankfully, we have TASSEL to fill in that gap. Our Khmer teachers were in similar situations when they were young, hence they are very passionate about teaching now. They work so hard to make sure the students get what they deserve: good quality education. I have been here for four years now and I have seen so much improvement in our students’ English knowledge. Many students have come from knowing nothing to being able to speak English pretty well in such a short time. That is what keeps me and other teachers going. The impact that TASSEL has had in these children’s lives is very important and I believe it will change Cambodia one day and maybe it already is.