By Eliza Duquette
From the outside, building #570 on Street 26 in the town of Siem Reap, Cambodia might just look like any ordinary Khmer building: two stories, enclosed by a simple steel gate, potted plants bathing in the sun, a slight breeze carrying a hint of children’s laughter to your ear.
There might be a stray cow grazing outside, or a street vendor sauntering by, attempting to sell his sweet treats. But it’s on the inside where you really see the uniqueness of this simple but wonderful place.
Walking up the steps and sliding off your shoes before entering the building, you might see Srey Kouch or Srey Sdang, both grade six girls, run over and attempt to tickle your belly, then run away in fits of laughter.
Or you could run into Rahdy, Lida and Young Chi, a trio of boys in grade five who will greet you in true Khmer fashion with hands in prayer position at their chests, heads lowered with a big smirk and bright eyes, and a “Susiday!”
Looking around The Global Child (TGC), you would also notice the good work that past Minerva Fellows have put into place at the school: art classes, piano classes, soccer teams—the list continues.
But there is room for more programs still, especially with such hungry young minds. Thus as new Minerva Fellows, one of the programs my fellow Fellow Carolyn Canetti ‘11 and I would like to put into place is a pen pal program between students at Union and students at TGC.
Our bright and interesting students, ranging in ages from 7 to 23, would love to get to know a native English speaker, especially a student of Union College, a place they have heard so much about.
The program would allow the students to be excited about practicing their English, and receiving their letters from their Union pen pals would brighten their days, weeks, and lives.
Additionally, all letters received will be displayed at the both schools, allowing all students and staff to read and enjoy— creating an opportunity for all to learn and bridge understanding.
Interested? Union pen pals can expect to write one to two letters a term for the 2011-2012 school year. The program will start the first week of October, when TGC students will write letters to their Union pen pals.
A package of the letters will then be sent to Union and received by the end of October. After receiving the letters and having a week to read, enjoy and eventually respond, all response letters to TGC pen pals will be due back to Maddie Cullerton.
Then the responses will be sent to Cambodia, and the cycle continues!