Tag Archives: students

My last full day at FLO in picture form . . .

They’re bringing food . . . it’s a gift.
Some got a snack along the way.
These guys are buds!
I watched this building being built during my stay at FLO.
See the wat (pagoda) ?
Now in the complex . . .
That’s a lot of rice!
Then came clean up time . . . I didn’t take any photos during the ceremony.
Wanna help?
See the one about the big flood?
My turn next!
: )
Take our picture!
Now YOU!
No more rice . . . just kids!
Monks gotta do laundry too!
One more picture, Auntie???

My last full day at FLO . . .

On Wednesday, August 25, 2010 I posted the following (and more, this is an excerpt) on my glob: susansbackwardsglob.com:

What I came here to do . . .
written 8/24/2010
I came here
to be
to live
to learn
to grow
to expand
to have fun
to laugh
to play
to rest
to love.
And more and more I wrote.
So, before I left for this 5-month trip to SE Asia, I meditated and asked, “Where? How long? What do do?” And I listened. Yes, I listened to my Divine Soul, or my gut, or my intuition; plug in any word that feels best to you. And slowly, it came to me. The school. Some travel time and time to rest. Two months to volunteer somewhere. And the final month to travel, rest, and reflect on all that I knew would surely happen.
Okay, I had the basic framework, the outline, if you will. I trusted that the particulars would arise in their own time. And they did.
The very first day at school in Bangkok, a new friend told me of FLO (Future Light Orphanage) a little outside of Phnom Penh.
Another friend of a friend told me to be careful; do my research, that a lot of orphanages in Cambodia are a scam; are fake; they bring in kids for the hour or two when sympathetic westerners come to look and most surely give donations. After, the kids go home, and the crooked people pocket the money intended to help the unfortunate.
“Okay, be careful, Susan Jane,” I thought, “Be sure it’s a legitimate organization.”
And, I realized that it was best to stay at one place for the entire 2-month period. It’s better for the kids, the organization, everyone. So in the midst of the intensive program to earn my CELTA certificate, I glanced once again at FLO’s website; it seemed legit. Okay, it really was just a glance; I was busy and preoccupied. I was mostly trusting that it came from a real recommendation from someone whose son had volunteered and BEEN there. I contacted the school; we had a dialogue back and forth; I told them I didn’t have a police record to send but that I could ask friends to be references. They willingly obliged; nothing more came of it. : ) (I suppose just that you say that you have references was the point . . . ) I set the dates; we made an agreement. Okay, 8-weeks volunteer teaching at FLO . . . focusing on speaking and writing . . .
And that was that. I put it out of my mind, went back to focusing on CELTA, made it through those laborious 4-weeks, passed, and sigh, took a rest, and when the moment was right, looked at the FLO site again. This time I really looked at it; I went through page after page. That’s when I discovered the Hawaii connection.
“Of course,” I thought, “Of course.”
I really wasn’t surprised. Hadn’t I asked my Divine Soul (gut, intuition, higher self, God to those who feel more comfortable with the norm . . . ) to guide me? Hadn’t I listened to what felt right?
Yes, I had. So of course there’d be a connection to Hawaii at FLO.
That first night when I arrived, I was nervous. “Why am I so nervous?” I wondered to myself. But I was; I was nervous.
So to arrive and see *HVB’s placard with Kamehameha in the silk shop (where I first stayed), made me smile.
And then, to enter the canteen where I was dining alone and see an ALOHA sign, made me smile again.
Relax Susan Jane! Don’t you know that you’re well loved! Don’t you know that all is WELL.
“Yes,” I thought to myself, “I do know. Thank you.”
And as you know, the next 8-weeks were magical. The students at FLO are such smart, funny, lively, wonderful people.
So, here it was Friday the 16th of September, my last day at FLO, and what should happen? I was invited to join FLO students who don’t have **family as they traveled to the neighborhood pagoda (temple/wat) because of this very special 15-day holiday to honor ancestors.
I was absolutely surrounded by love. Yes, surrounded. In the form of precious, wonderful, charming, and caring human beings. One little boy took my hand for the start of the walk. Another appeared for the next part. And another and another. And then, the first one came back again to be with me as we approached the pagoda.
Then, one-by-one two older students (a boy and a girl from my two classes) appeared to thoughtfully guide me through the ceremony, “Auntie, like this . . . Auntie, now come here. . .” And it was done with such love, such concern that I be included, that I understand what was going on. That I really participate in a ceremony that was so very important and sacred to them. And then, it was time to sit and be quiet, and yes, I meditated.
And it came to me, “Of course, of course my last day at FLO would be so very, very perfect, so very, very sacred. Of course. My Divine Soul who knows all, loves all, and only wishes good things for me and everyone somehow knew that this was the right day to end my stay at FLO.”
And as I sat with these most wonderful children, I gave thanks. I gave thanks for everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING: my life, all life, my health, my parents, my family, my husband, my friends, these children . . .”
What an absolutely perfect and wonderful way to end my 8-week stay at FLO. And it came to me, ask them to write their name in your analog iPhone (in both Khmer /kə maɪ/ and anglais). So I did. So when I see you next, ask me to show you my book. Ask me to show you their wonderful names and how they write. I’ll gladly share their gift to me with you. There’s plenty to go around for all.
Here’s another excerpt from that same entry to my glob susansbackwardsglob mentioned above:
And I thought of the people in my life who live in Light,
and I thought of the people I don’t yet know who received my text message back in April.
and I thought of how I’m going to meet them and others as one thing leads to another,
one heart leads to another.
Doors will be opened.
Introductions will be made.
And I will find my way around this planet
on the voyage
which will open up
to me.
Yes, of course it would all work out perfectly. Of course there would be bookends to mark this experience and that. Life is like that; it unfolds with the most amazing symmetry.
“What a coincidence,” we say to one another when some chance this or that happens. “What a coincidence that . . .” plug in the blank of your choice. A chance event? Or the beautiful orchestration of your soul and mine as they converse with one another in a plane that our human mind doesn’t see nor understand. Call it God’s hand, call it divine guidance, call it blind luck, call it what you will. Regardless of what you call it, I can guarantee that each and every one of you have had at least one something happen that you’re thinking of now. Admit it. You are! You’re human, and you’re having a human experience, so of course you have!!! It’s so very, very natural and common.
Alright, so there I was sitting on the floor of the pagoda surrounded by these most wonderful human beings.
“Stay and have lunch with us, Auntie!”
Of course I did.
It was soooo delicious.
“Who made this?” I asked.
“Many people, many, many people,” they replied.
“What did I eat?” you ask.
“***Fish. Curry with vegetables. Rice. Lots of rice. Noodles. Two different kinds of noodles. And bananas. Crisp, fresh bananas.”
Yes, I was stuffed. And they kept eating!!!!
“We eat a lot,” they giggled, as they continued to eat and eat.
“Are these children heavy?” you ask.
“No, they’re not.”
You’ve seen the pictures. They eat really healthily, hardly any processed foods. (The processed foods that they do have are candies or cakes that they buy with money given to them by their eFoster parents.)
“It’s time to clean up, Auntie. You sit; we clean up.”
“I can help,” I said. And I did. A little. Nothing in comparison to what they did.
“Are you ready to go outside, Auntie?”
“Are you?”
“Yes,” they replied.
“Kay, den, let’s go!”
And then they showed me some other things on the grounds of the wat  (pagoda, they said). We burned some more incense. We prayed, and then we just had good ‘ole plain fun looking at the beautiful murals inside another building. Then . . .
“Take photos of us, Auntie!”
I took photos.
“Now with YOU!!!!”
And more pictures were taken . . .
When it was time to walk back to FLO, that same little boy, who had first grabbed my hand when leaving FLO, magically appeared (he was in one of my Gogo Loves English 1 classes).
I smiled as I took his hand.

He still holds a very special place in my heart . . .

So . . . now for the photos of this most wonderful closing to a most amazing 8-weeks . . .
I love you ALL and hold you too in my ****heart.
*Hawaii Visitor’s Bureau
**Some of them do have family; they’re at FLO because they’re family is very poor and can’t provide them with an education.
***My beautiful young lady friend pulled out prime pieces of fish for me and dropped them in my bowl. : )
****My heart is very, very BIG.

Mahalo for your generous donations!!!!

Dear Friends,

Some of you very thoughtfully sent funds my way in order to take a few FLO kids out to dinner in Phnom Penh.

Why did I want to treat them to a dinner out on the town?

First of all, I wanted to acknowledge the two student teachers for their hard work; they’re volunteer teaching the younger Ss at FLO, and I don’t know that many 17 and 20 year olds would would willingly add more work to their already full schedules.

Also, there were a few other Ss who continued to pour themselves completely into their school work; I wanted to let them know that I’d noticed their efforts and positive attitudes.

When I invited them to join me for dinner on Sunday, September 11th, I could tell that they were containing their excitement in order to give a thoughtful, quiet and, dignified, “Yes.” It was obvious that they were jumping up and down on the inside. : )

You all also gave so very generously that I was able to treat ALL the FLO students to apples twice! (using YOUR donations, of course)  They’ll be receiving the second apple in the coming week.

And lastly, the young boy who was one of the winners during the talent show in August (and who gave me his drawing) received some drawing supplies (paper, colored pencils, pencil holder, etc.) thanks to YOU!

All of this may seem small compared to others who have funded new buildings, scholarships, etc., but to these students, the gifts you gave them were HUGE!!!!

On behalf of them, I would like to thank you so very much for reaching into your pocketbook, sharing your hard earned dollars, and making their day a little brighter.

The following are some shots I took during our outing.

Enjoy and thanks again,


The gang! (LOVE the mural Dani!!!)
This was his first time in Phnom Penh; he was so excited. AND he devoured and LOVED his meal! : )
She got a hamburger with french fries!!! LOL And she ate it all! It was a gourmet one. Nice!
The two student teachers got the same thing . . . and the van driver whose hand you see; they all had clean plates at the end.
It just so happened that there was an art exhibition next door; we went and the kids couldn’t believe that they had pupus anyone could eat–for free! They ate more! This woman is displaying a special sweater she knitted before the Pol Pot and Khmer Rouge era; she kept it safe and had it on display to represent a time gone by.

FLO’s new and beautiful mural . . .

When Dani, a vivacious 22-year old volunteer (and recent college grad), came to assist in teaching a class on environmental issues at FLO, she also brought the bright idea of facilitating the painting of a mural. She donated the funds to purchase the paint, shopped all over Phnom Penh for the materials, gathered the “artistic” students, and gave just the right amount of coaxing to get their creative juices flowing.

Dani felt that the mural should be dedicated to the memory of Rob’s wife, Mei; everyone quickly agreed. Below are some shots of this most appropriate tribute.

Dani showing off her clean hand.
Once the concept was agreed upon, everyone began to paint with gusto.
The peanut gallery.
A ray of sunshine. : )
There are many artists at FLO.

Looking good!
Even Koko the dog got excited about it!
That’s all for now, folks. : )

Volunteers cooking the meals for the FLO kids one Saturday . . .

Then entire event was being taped by Rick, the Aussie/Hawaiian cameraman;
it will air in Hawaii December 2011.
Just about time to dig in.
First, to give thanks.
Yum, Sean’s egg scramble with lots of veggies was pretty darn good!
Lunch was a classic hot dog; the kids were starving by dinner time!
This is the normal ritual.
Line up before grind (i.e. eat : )
Lots of ketchup on my dawg!
Meanwhile, volunteer Pam bought her new foster son a bike!
Next came Sean’s tasty spaghetti bolonaise, heated by a wood (and sometimes plastic : (      fire).
Wok’s are definitely the way to cook for hundreds of people!
Gal pal time while waiting for dinner to be finished. Both Saturday and Sunday afternoons are devoted to karate class for some of the FLO students.
There was also a dance performance this evening.
This cat took a liking to everyone who’d give her a cuddle.
And now for the noodles . . .
This was their favorite meal of the day; the kids asked for second, thirds, and fourths. Fortunately, there was plenty to share.

So many, many more pictures to come . . . when the time is right.

Love to you all,


The Day Rob, Founder of eGlobal, Arrived at FLO . . .

August 2011

Today at FLO . . .

Friday, 9 September 2011

Hi Everyone,

In addition to the other dogs at FLO, there are now two puppies!!!!
Mo-mo, the larger, and Me-me, the smaller.
And, student teacher number one did a great job with the phonetics class!
 Yes, I feel so proud of her! She was nervous to do this on her own. “How do I draw this, auntie?” she asked holding up one of her self-made flash cards.
And, as you can see from the whiteboard, she managed perfectly well!
“Remember ‘word chunks.’ Students remember word chunks more easily than single words,” this auntie/teacher added.
And word chunks she created off the *top of her head. Yes, I like it too. Can you spot one?
“smiling face”
: )
And on that note, aloha
*Uh huh, I literally saw them bubbling over out of her head.

Some of My Thoughts about Teaching at FLO . . .

I’m finding that part of living in Cambodia is getting used to constant surprises. Yesterday (Wednesday), when I arrived at the 8 a.m. Gogo Loves English 1 class (after having filled-in for the director in lieu of a fulltime teacher and having taught *4-different classes a day on Monday and Tuesday), I expected to see **ST1 teaching the class.

First, I set my materials in the back on a desk and pulled out a storybook that I had with me. While I was waiting for ST1 to arrive, I read to the handful of Ss: reading it several times and asking all kinds of questions.
After several minutes, the best student in the class said, “Gogo Loves English One.” “Yes, Sokleap will be  coming to teach.” “No, no Sokleap.” “No?” “No, she’s school.” “She’s at school?” “Yes, she’s school.” “Okay,” I thought, “It looks like I’m teaching today.”
I pointed to the textbook and elicited the responses I wanted to discover where they were in the book. It was time for the 4th section, I gathered, the review. I conducted the review speaking as little as possible so that the students were the ones to talk and tell me, “What’s this?” “It’s an eraser.” “Can you fly?” “No, I can’t.” “I’m Susan Jane. What’s your name?” “I’m . . .”
Later in the day, when it was time for ST2’s class, I half expected that he wouldn’t show up either, but he did. (As he taught, I wrote quite a long list of suggestions and praises to him regarding his teaching. I’ll include them in a future glob entry. All in all, I think he’s doing quite well.) When I asked him about ST1, I said that I needed to know their schedule. “Oh, we have a schedule,” he said. “Yes, but no one told me the schedule.” “Oh,” he said as his face showed his understanding.
Only a few minutes later, ST1 showed up. “Sorry auntie!!!!! I had to go to school.” “Okay, will you be here to teach tomorrow?” I asked. “No,” she replied. “And on Friday?” I asked. “Yes,” she replied.
After some more back and forths, I surmised that she had to go to school (to register for next year’s classes) on Wednesday and Thursday. She assured me that she’d be present next week.
Okay, so this morning I was thinking to myself, “Should I go to the next section: Who’s she? Who’s he? (as in she’s my sister, she’s my mother, he’s my father, he’s my brother, etc.) or should I review the first 3 sections more?” I felt that I should review more. The 8 a.m. class is technically comprised of the “slower” learners. For the past few weeks, I’ve been working with a few of the Ss after ST1 teaches the official class. I started first with one darling girl who I wasn’t sure could read. She definitely knew the alphabet, but how to say the word that was formed using the alphabet? Hmm, I didn’t think so.
So one-by-one I went through the words on her “alphabet” page. First, I would simply point at the letters in the alphabet that comprised the word (which she knew only because she recognized the picture representing it, not because she could read it). She would say the letter. I would ask again. I did simple progressions until I hoped she was starting to see how the letters, when combined, formed the word. After several sessions of this, I could see that she was really starting to get it.
The word got out and my little “mini-class” grew.
: ) So it goes.
And now, to bring us back to today, “Hmm,” I thought, “How much have they really learned, and how much are they simply parroting, hoping that the word they yell out is in fact the word on the page?”
“Hi. I’m Susan Jane. What’s your name?” I said as I went around the room in a random pattern eliciting the appropriate responses. I continued going through the different “marker sentences” they’d learned: What’s this? It’s an eraser. What’s this? It’s an apple. What’s this? It’s a pencil.
I had a feeling that when the student teachers were teaching this section (and showing how nouns that start with a vowel use an rather than a), the students hadn’t really learned the vowels.
“What are vowels” I asked. Lots and lots of rumpled brows filled the room.
I wrote “vowels” on the whiteboard. “Oh . . .” I could see some of the Ss thinking.
“A!” one called out. “Yes, a,” I replied as I wrote an a on the WB. “And . . . ?”
And not too long later, the list was filled in: a, e, i, o, u.
I went around the room randomly asking the Ss to say the vowels (and deliberately leaving them written on the WB). After everyone confidently answered my question, I erased them from the WB.
Shocked expressions filled the room.
Again, I asked, “What are the vowels?”
And by golly, if they all didn’t manage to say them. By now, they’d heard “a, e, i, o, u” umpteen times. Yes, the real test will be when I ask them tomorrow. I’ll keep you posted.
I continued the review and decided to give them a little “test.” So often, the stronger Ss yell out the answers and don’t give the other Ss a chance to respond on their own.
“Sounds like you’re not controlling your class well, Susan Jane,” I can hear you say. Yes, at times it’s that, but most often it’s the culture of how the classes are run here. The Ss seem to really get excited when I mime, “Shhhh,” and show how I want them to be quiet so that the other student answers alone. They get quiet and look at me expectantly. “Will she/he be able to answer correctly?” I can see them thinking.
But to create that setting takes a conscious effort on my part.

Also, very often the Ss are mumbling the words that they’re learning; some mumble more loudly than others. This is a behavior I want to encourage; they’re practicing saying the words; they want to say the words correctly. They really do want to learn; it’s written all over their faces and even manifests itself in their bodies when they leave the class and bow to me as they return a pencil and say, “Thank you, teacher.”
I realized that I wanted to really know if they were learning this or not.
To ensure that they didn’t speak to one another and look at their books, I mimed putting their books in the desk. Next, I moved them around the room so that they were far apart from one another.
I then asked them to write 12 different somethings on the blank piece of paper that I’d given them. (I say somethings because it was partly single words and partly full sentences.) Of the 12 Ss, only one was able to write the sentence, “Can you sing” Yes, he left off the question mark. Seven were able to write, “I’m Gogo” yes, no period (or point, dot, stop, etc. as it is also called here). Seven did reasonably well. Five did not.
Okay, to be fair, I have to ask, “How would they have done if I had been able to mime the word (rather than simply say it and ask them to write it)? Would they have known the words then?” I’m not sure of the answer. That will take another session when I can be with them one-one-one.
And, maybe it’s not very important for them to be able to write the sentences: What’s your name?, Can you sing?, and Nice to meet you? Maybe it’s more important to simply be able to say them and use them with others. But now I know more clearly what they can and can’t do.
As I think about it now, I also wonder, “Why go through the book so quickly if most of the Ss aren’t really getting it? And, do they really need to ‘get’ it 100%, or do they simply need to get the ‘idea’ of it?” I’m not sure of the answers; I’m thinking out loud (and in print : ).
The questions (for the staff at FLO to ask themselves) are: “Do we want to simply go through the books for the sake of going through them? Or do we actually want to teach the Ss? Do we actually want the Ss to learn? And if we do want the Ss to learn, what’s the best way to assist them in their learning?”
Personally, I think the students at FLO could really benefit from taking classes taught by 2 to 3 ESL trained teachers who would work at FLO full-time.
Also, I think it would be much better for the teachers to go through the different sections more slowly. What to do about the few Ss who are faster learners and get it more quickly? Have supplemental material for them to do; they can continue to learn on their own at their own pace.
Or, if that isn’t an option, and FLO feels that it needs to keep to some kind of a schedule, enlist the help of older and more proficient FLO Ss to tutor the “slower” learners. I really think that the “slower” learners can learn if they’re given the special attention that they need. Just today, when I got the rest of the class to be quiet and listen, the first little girl that I began to work with one-on-one was able to answer and write the correct answer. She just needed a little more time.
Aloha for now,
*in addition to the two I teach in the afternoon
** student teacher one

The power goes out almost every day at FLO . . .

Hi Everyone,
We just had class outside because the power was off . . . it goes off a lot. Normally, we just ignore it (the staff usually goes outside and takes a break), but today in the 5:45 p.m. class, we couldn’t see! It was getting dark, and the lesson I’d planned relied heavily on using the whiteboard. (They were going to rewrite their stories using the correction guide; it went really well with the 3 p.m. Intermediate level class. While the Ss were writing, I was writing many of their errors, which I’d “collected” while marking their stories, on the WB. We then went through them one-by-one and made the corrections. It was a really good class because they were all very attentive; I think using their errors really helped. I could tell that they wanted to know WHY it was wrong? And how do we correct it? The question was written, almost literally, all over their faces. : ) Yes, that’s what we’ll do tomorrow in the 5:45 p.m. class. Or ?
“Hmm, what to do?” I thought to myself as I dropped my many *accoutrement on my desk.
“Grab your chair and let’s go outside,” I said within seconds. What were we going to do? Honestly, at that moment, I had no idea, but I knew it would come to me. And come to me it did.
It ended up that I had booklets for each of the Ss with exercises on homonyms. I’d given the original to the director last week asking if I could pretty-please-with-ice-cream-on-top have copies of the first three exercises. But . . . I also told him that I’d really love it if he could copy the entire book. So when he delivered a box to me yesterday, and I opened it to find enough copies of the ENTIRE book for ALL my Ss in the afternoon classes, he had the biggest grin on his face.
Uh huh, simple pleasures really do bring the most satisfaction. : )
And, this 5:45 p.m. class really gets beat up with all the “changes” that happen now and then. Changes as in people coming and going, some of whom need to be sent off in style (Kai and Sean yesterday, imagine 200+ Ss forming two lines, hugging K & S, waving goodbye . . . yes, crying . . .and of course, we needed to be there too ! ), students who need to rehearse for a dance concert for a very important someone, the power going off and it’s just too dark to have class, etcetera, etcetera. So I’ve already been adjusting my lessons for this particular class quite frequently. I do my best to cover what I really want to cover with them.
Today’s lesson was really fun because the kids were into doing something “different.” And by golly if those homonym booklets didn’t come in handy!
I used the backside of a piece of scrap paper for my impromptu “whiteboard.” One-by-one I wrote word pairs like week/weak, ate/eight, read/red, reed/read.
Ahhhh, I can hear the collective gasp from many of you (around the world) as you remember what a homonym is. : )
Yes, homonyms are words that sound the same but have different meanings.
We went through the pairs. Yes, CELTA followers, I used CCQs. It was quite fun to jump up and growl like a big animal that can walk on its hind legs, take a sock off to show my naked foot, etcetera, etcetera. (*)
And as class ended and they left, I received too many “Thank you teacher!”s to count. : ) And the hugs? Also, too many to count.
Sigh. I’ve fallen in love with these kids.
And I leave FLO in 2-weeks and 4-days . . . the wheel of time seems to be gathering speed. I can literally see it bumping and rolling down the calendar hill.
Yes, I’m savoring every moment that remains.
And with that, it’s time to say goodbye. I’m quite late for din-din.
Love and light to you all,

p.s. and yes, as soon as the Ss left, the lights came back on : )
and that’s how I was able to do the post . . .

* backpack, bag of the Ss notebooks, box of gift homonym booklets . . .
Mahalo Glenn for the real definition. : )
(*) Twenty points to whoever guesses first what those two words are. ; )

More Scavenger Hunt Pixs . . .

Green team “Even Better than the Best!” The winners!
With their fearless leader . . . yep, moi!
And more teams came running in to finish.
The Yellow team, the Yellow Butterfly Dragon
Orange team, Success.
Blue team, Blue Dragon.
Yahoo! That was fun!

and that’s all for now folks  . . .