26 December 2015

Construction progress continues

While students, teachers, and cleaners enjoy their Winter Break, progress on the construction site between the two buildings has continued. The hallways are filthy and the cleaners are going to have a big job to do to get them clean before school resumes, however at least work is progressing, albeit slowly (or that's how it appears). Here are a few photos to bring you up to date.
First is shot of our new PE area, taken on 22nd December 2015. Framing for the roof was going up.
The roof is on the new PE area. Looking north west.
Looking South East at the PE area.
The roof has some sections of green poly-sheeting to let additional light in.
They are green, rather than clear, so hence the green cast on these photos.
Looking up at the roof of the PE area.
Definitely room for balls to go high in Volleyball and Basketball games.
Some of the area outside my classroom with with framing removed - 20th December 2015.
There had actually been some effort made to tidy things up.
Looking out the window from the "walkway" area towards my classroom - 26th December 2015
The white rendering definitely makes things lighter and brighter in the classroom.
This is what's going on at my end of the building. 26th December 2015.
And this is taken from my classroom looking the other way.
They're working on both ends at the same time.
26th December 2015.
I'm not sure, but from the noise going on outside my room this afternoon, they are probably also working on railings along each end of the building at the moment. I keep on shutting the doors that lead to the work area to remind the children that these areas are off limits. As you can see, cleanliness of the work site is not a priority, and we can't wait for construction to be completed, since all that cement dust gets routinely tramped inside the building all day every day. Poor cleaners. It has to be discouraging for them that 5 minutes after they mop the hallways there are dirty, dusty footprints all down them. Life's like that.

The last three photos were taken back on 22nd November, 2015 and show the progress that has been made with the new hall. We're hanging out for this space to be finished so we can be more comfortable for assemblies and other whole school events.

That's it for now. I wonder how much more will get done between now and when we resume school. I'll try and remember to take some more photos on the first day back!

19 December 2015

Winter Break Begins

Last time I wrote was after a crazy weekend. The week that followed was a good one, with two teaching days followed by an inter-school sports day at the International School of Phnom Penh. I think there were students from eight schools involved, all from Phnom Penh. It was a great day. The emphasis was on participation rather than formal competition, but there was opportunity for that as well. Our students had opportunity to try a variety of activities that they don't get to do at East-West, including an 800m run, long jump, high jump, hurdles, sprints, and shot put, as well as fun activities like "rocket throw" and "fish throw" (kid friendly versions of javelin and discus), sack races, three legged races, water relay races, and standing long jump. At the end of the day there were 4 x 100m relay races for each grade level with one team from each school in each race. It was a hot day, but my lovely head umbrella helped keep me cool. Generous lathering on of sunscreen was also necessary. Frozen water bottles, topped up as I emptied what had defrosted, kept me hydrated during the day.
One highlight for me was seeing a young man who I had known as a teenager during my first years in Cambodia, working as a responsible teaching assistant at that school.
We returned to school after lunch, and retreated to the classroom where I turned on fans and air-conditioning, and settled the students with a movie. We watched Treasures of the Snow, a story I have loved since childhood, and finished it off the next afternoon after the Grade 3-5 assembly. 
It was good to have a day off the next day, and then one more teaching day before the weekend.

This week we had a full week, but since it was leading up to holidays I decided to get most of the real work done by Thursday, and make Friday a fun day. I took it one step further, and decided to show a movie on Thursday afternoon. It's a fun movie, but the setting is Egyptian and it involves archaeologists hunting for lost treasure in a pyramid, so it fits in with our current Social Studies unit on Ancient Egypt and pyramids. Friday morning we played math games (practising multiplication facts), did a little grammar, and then either played a word game or listened to a Raz-Kids story on internet safety. 

Report cards were handed out on Thursday, along with school calendars for the coming year, and returned work folders. My students amazed me by ALL remembering to return their blue returned work folders to me, empty on Friday.

Today, I enjoyed a relaxed pace and worked on producing a news/prayer letter. There are quite a few hours work involved, but it's done now, and sent. Mission accomplished. I slipped out for dinner, and ended up sharing a table with our elementary principal who was on a similar mission. It was nice to have company after spending the day alone. Tomorrow, I'm looking forward to meeting up with one of my students from my first two years at East-West. Her family were in Cambodia for two years with Australian Volunteers Abroad, and I had the pleasure of teaching her and her friends for both 3rd and 4th grades. Her family is visiting Cambodia, and I'm looking forward to seeing them.

07 December 2015

A busy weekend

This weekend was fairly busy for me, but in a fun kind of way.

Saturday had three events, and Sunday had one. In between I managed to put a few Christmas decorations up at home, do a little bit of school preparation and grading, and get some sleep. Thankfully we get a public holiday on Thursday this week, and Wednesday is our Grade 3-5 Inter-School Field Day. The forecast for Wednesday is mostly sunny, and 33 degrees Celsius! Lots of sunscreen and water, along with my crazy head umbrella should help me stay cool. I've already got water bottles and peanut butter sandwiches in the fridge in preparation for that day.

Saturday morning was the grand celebration of East-West International School's 10th Anniversary year. The school opened in August 2006, just 5 months before I moved to Cambodia, and I joined the team at East-West in August 2010. There were a number of fun activities going on, but the one I enjoyed most was playing volleyball. It's not something I do often, but when I get the chance and feel inclined to do so I enjoy it (even if I'm not great at it). I did manage to get quite a few serves in, and a few other good/lucky shots. My right arm is only slightly bruised, although it was pretty sore for a while on the day. The day was complete with speeches, cake, and a presentation to our principal, who will be leaving us in the not-too-far-distant future. She has been there since school started, and is much loved by those who have worked with her.

One of the features of the celebration was an art display, put together by both the elementary and high school art classes. I was totally impressed with the work on display, and couldn't resist taking some photos to share.
This is work by students in my current class, who have been studying Egyptian art.

This work is by students from previous years now in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.

Three of these are also by previous students in 6th and 7th grade.
The bottom one of the puppy, is by one of our 11th grade students, and it was so beautiful I just couldn't resist snapping it.

Following the morning's activities (from 9 - 11.30am) the staff were invited to lunch by the owner of the school, which was held at a local buffet style restaurant. The food was good, time with colleagues away from school was good, and this was the chance to present Sandra with a very special card, created by our elementary art teacher.

From there I headed across town to a Christmas Fair, where I caught up with a few friends, and enjoyed wandering around and looking at what was on offer by various NGOs, and making a few purchases.

 By the time I got home I was ready for a quiet evening.

Sunday afternoon brought the final choir practice for this season, followed by our performance. This year's Bella Voce Community Choir Christmas Charity Concert was to a packed house with 700 tickets sold. We've worked hard, and had some fun and laughs along the way. The obvious enjoyment of the audience made it worth all the effort. There are two more private performances to go, only one of which I am involved with, but I'm looking forward to that on Friday.

Meanwhile here are a few snaps from the evening.