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From Rural Cambodia to Atlanta: Soroth's Year at School

By Soroth San, CIEE Internship USA 2017-2018 Participant

I was born and grew up in a poor village in Cambodia. I moved to the capital city, Phnom Penh, and became a student at the Institute of Foreign Languages (IFL), majoring in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. I was working as Head of School in Cambodia at an elementary school, encountering a ton of challenges including discipline issues, quality of education, interactions with students’ parents. I was eager for an opportunity to look at other parts of the developed world which has gone through and achieved in implementing successful education philosophies.

There are many strong motives driving me to choose the U.S.A. to be my new world and to broaden my horizon through an internship with the Galloway School in Atlanta, Georgia. First and foremost, I have always had a question in my mind about why the U.S. is a powerful country. I think of the education system and society because I hold the strong belief that a vast majority of people’s successes are the result of education. Despite the fact that I have studied English for 15 years, I felt that I needed to improve my English in an English-speaking environment. I love to be around native speakers, and I hope to enormously master my English speaking, listening, reading, and writing.

Soroth 1
The U.S. is also the country of the Sharing Foundation, the organization that sponsored me to study through high school and college. I have known some people there for a long time and turned to them for help and motivation, and felt the U.S. was a home to me even before I came here. I now have a chance to present myself to my generous long-term sponsor and meet donors and board members.

I am so blessed that I have a scholarship to come to America to look at the whole picture of a school. My internship at the Galloway School is in educational administration. I spend my time observing, shadowing, and simple interviewing all the departments of Galloway, including classroom programs as well as administration such as communications, development, and admissions. I write weekly newsletters on what I have learned in comparison to my school in Cambodia.

I like almost everything in my internship, and the critical elements tapping to my heart are meeting and learning from new people. I have one-one-one and sometimes group meetings with teachers, administrative staff, school principals and others to study about their job and roles within the school system. How do they perform their work effectively and efficiently? What do they do on a daily basis?

Soroth 3
I have to talk to people in English, which I find very challenging. English. On my first day at Galloway, I was in a very big group and people were talking about something fun like a joke, and everybody was laughing happily while I felt overwhelmed and wondered why they laughed. I was struggling to understand and learned to get used to the language, accent, and intonation. I find myself improving a lot in that area, which means I am somehow acquiring the language, and I am so blissful for what I have mastered in English.

Weather is also one of the biggest challenges ever because I am originally from a hot climate. I find it very hard to adapt to cold weather. I need to wear many more layers than the local people. To me, 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit is cold, but not for the locals, which is hilarious!

Soroth 3
After four months living in the U.S., I have found myself evolving remarkably. I have gradually acquired the taste of food, the accent and nature of language, views on culture, ways of living, eating and communicating. I have built up lots of assertiveness and confidence to express myself in front of big groups of people. I have opened up myself to the world of freedom and human rights. I have learned to be open-minded about the world and accepted things that are different. All things considered, I am able to see the world bigger and more clearly.

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