“I have a good word, I go?” Sreynoun asked with anticipation.
It was proof that the game of Hangman was a universal game. No matter what language or country you are in, they will most likely know of the game where if you don’t guess the word, the man gets hanged. Grim, but a great learning game we all seem to have grown up with. They seemed extra excited to play since I was the guest of honor. It was literally three walls and a homemade tin/plastic covering that held up this “classroom”. No walls or windows, just one big entrance where the fourth wall should have been. Almost everything in the classroom, from the pencils to the paper adorning the walls, were donated by outside sources, mostly foreigners they told me.
Even though these kids take schooling in these conditions, they were able to speak to me in English, French and Japanese. It blew my mind. I paid thousands and thousands of dollars to learn these languages in high school and college and these kids seemed more fluent than I would ever be.. While half of the orphans go to public school, the other half stay home and the roles change later on that day. These kids had just come home from school and you would think that the last thing they wanted was to have more schooling. But once the teacher yelled English lessons were starting, their eyes lit up with excitement.
To them, education wasn’t anything they could take for granted. These kids knew, even at their young age, that education was a precious gift. No matter where or what you are learning, may it be in a shack or at an elite university, these kids taught me that my education was one of the greatest gifts I could have ever asked for.
“Give us a clue to your word Srey,” asked the teacher.
“We should feel everyday,” she answered back laughing.
It only took the two letters for me to figure out what she had written.
To all the children I met at the Lighthouse Orphanage in Adoung Village, Cambodia.