Our Stories

International Teaching Adventure in Cambodia


Jennifer MacPherson, a 4th year student in our Mount Royal University Bachelor of Education program has always had a passion for teaching and travelling. Earlier this year, she decided to combine these two passions through an international teaching adventure in Cambodia.

Jenn spent a fair bit of time researching various opportunities with the help of International Volunteer Headquarters. Originally, her plan was to travel and teach in Nepal but with the spring 2015 earthquake in this country she had to change her plans. Cambodia was her second choice but in Jenn's words "it was so much more than I could have ever asked for." She lived with a local family who were also billeting 10 other volunteers. After an initial orientation session about Cambodia and the local customs, Jenn began a 6 week teaching placement at a local orphanage that was run by the Cambodia Organization for Living and Training (COLT).

The children in the orphanage are from families who had either passed away, worked the garbage dump, came from unsafe homes or families could not provide the basic life necessities. Initially, Jenn indicated that she "had really big teaching ideas going in and then I realized I have never taught non-native English speakers and I did not fully comprehend the amount of repetition that is required for them to learn English. I picked up from the teaching plans of a previous volunteer and we focused on colours, shapes, and phonics (letter sounds). The children could pick out colours but they had a lot of challenges sounding out the actual word for the colour. At times, the teaching got a bit tedious as there was lots of repetition but the students really needed the extensive practice in order to learn to speak in English".

On weekends, Jenn travelled extensively throughout Cambodia visiting natural and historical sites such as Angkor Wat. "The country and the people are so nice and they just stole my heart. I've travelled to a lot of countries but Cambodia definitely tops the list. My goal is to go back to Cambodia in two years. I want to first finish the B.Ed. program this year and then get a year of teaching experience in the Calgary area before I head back".
In 2013, the Association of Canadian Deans of Education (ACDE) created an Accord on the Internationalization of Education to emphasize the importance of international experiences in Canadian Bachelor of Education programs. If you are interested in learning more about international education opportunities be sure to attend one of the MRU Study Abroad Workshops this semester.