I met Vy on my first trip to Cambodia. He was a friend of a friend. I was staying in Siem Reap at Nemoll’s house with him and his wife. Nemoll’s broter, Kosorl, happened to stop by while I was there. Kosorl and I got to talking. He had a pretty cool story. He had busted his ass all his life in order to learn English and improve the lives of his family members and his community in the village of Tatoukandal.
Kosorl grew up in Tatoukandal with his parents. The village lies about an hour and a half outside of Siem Reap. However, because his family was poor, they couldn’t afford to send Kosorl away to school. Thankfully, he was lucky enough to find somebody to sponsor him and pay for his education. While he was away from home studying, Kosorl would take shelter in a nearby church. He eventually learned English, and even went on to become an international speaker, advocating for a cleaner Earth at events and conferences around the world.
Kosorl also helped build a school in Tatoukandal so that impoverished and underprivileged children could receive an education. While I was staying with Nemoll, Kosorl offered to take me to his village to see the school. And that’s where I met this guy.
When Kosorl brought me to the local school, Vy was teaching an English class. Vy was really excited to meet me because I was a native English speaker. He was determined to learn to speak English and become an English teacher. Unfortunately, he could not afford to go to university; and so he was forced to end his education as soon as he finished high school. His dream of becoming an English teacher ended before it could begin. And with only a high school education, his English wasn’t that great.
Despite the lack of teaching experience and his poor English skills, he was teaching an English lesson to large class of Primary students. This is because there was nobody else in their entire village who could teach these children. Those kids were his motivation for becoming a teacher. He wanted so badly to give them the language skills necessary to make something of themselves, and he saw himself as their only hope.
And so that’s why he was so excited to see me–not only was I a native English speaker, but I was also a teacher! Vy asked me to lead the lesson, and I was more than glad to do so. He keenly observed from the sideline and made mental notes of questions to ask me later.
Once we sent the kids outside to play, Vy bombarded me with question after question about the idiosyncrasies of the English language and all of its rules. I loved his enthusiasm!
I left Vy, the school, and the village feeling inspired. I was inspired by Vy’s enthusiasm, as well as his desire to give those children a better life.
Thankfully, like Kosorl, Vy found himself a sponsor. Now, Vy is well into his second year of university, and he’s loving every second of it. Best of all, his English has improved drastically since we last saw each other. He’s well on his way to achieving his dream.
Vy’s schedule is pretty intense, though. He’s taking English and Khmer classes. From Monday to Friday, he lives in his village with his family, teaching English in two different schools from 11 am until 6:30 pm. Then on weekends, he rides his motorbike into the city and attends university classes all day. On Saturdays, his classes run from 12:30 pm – 9:30 pm. Then, like, Kosorl did when he was studying, Vy sleeps in a nearby church. The following morning, he returns to class to learn some more from 7:30 am until 4:30 pm. After that, he rides the hour and a half back to his village, where he continues to read and study until he goes to bed. He is a man on a mission, and I couldn’t be more proud of him.
Vy has two more years of university left after this year. Once his program finishes, he can then apply for a government teaching job. He hopes he can secure a teaching job somewhere in a rural village, where he can continue to provide hopeful children with the education they deserve.