Volunteering :

Behind the scenes of a new project at Bayon Pastry School

Riana, 22 years old, tells us about her experience in our pastry school and introduces the beautiful project she was in charge of.
 

I study management at NEOMA Business School in Rouen. Since I entered this school, I have always been willing to follow two principles. The first one is to find out what I am really passionate about and choose my internship according to that. The second one is to keep involved in education for everyone because I am aware of how lucky I have been to be able to study so far. When I was told about Bayon Pastry School, I was immediately interested. I had just finished an internship at Danone, during which my addiction to deserts had grown and I was seeking a mission for an NGO in education. Working for a pastry school? Challenge accepted!
 
At Bayon Pastry School, I was in charge of a pastry cookbook that will be sold to raise money for the pastry training. I had to organize the whole project (the different steps, the budget, the planning…) and write the contents of the book. Our goal is to make a beautiful book that tells the story of the school so that everyone can read it even if they don’t intend to cook!
 
For this purpose, we had to make something different from the other cookbooks thanks to a significant storytelling. Why not immerse into a pastry student’s life? That’s the story I decided to tell. Along the book, we can follow the school year of a young woman: her integration in the school, her first steps in the professional world, her doubts and success, until her graduation! The story is based on testimonies from the students of the second intake (2015-2016). Actually, some testimonies will appear in the book throughout the book. Each chapter contains recipes that are linked to what the student narrator is living. Thus, we encourage the readers to put themselves in her shoes and live this experience with her! The trip wouldn’t be complete without a few pages about Khmer culinary culture and traditions! They are between some chapters to make the reader travel even more… A special guest’s recipe will also appear in the book. To find out more, you’ll have to read the book!
 
This experience will remain and unforgettable adventure and a great time in my studies. I had the chance to manage the project independently in a country that I didn’t know. I think there is no better way to discover and understand the way Khmer people work! The project has a strong creative potential. To write a book was a childhood dream. Conceiving the editorial approach, writing the chapters, giving my ideas… I think I had never felt such a fulfilment and had so much fun! Telling a student’s story also offered a great advantage: I spent a lot of time with the students to get to know their story and built bonds with them. Also, the Bayon team supported me, told me the NGO’s story and helped me understand their values. I keep in my mind a lot of good time, laugh and of course delicacies!
 
A big thank you to the whole staff of Bayon School for these three tremendous months! I am looking forward to having the book in my hands as well as a good passion fruit & chocolate tart!

 
We thank Riana for her enthusiasm, her creativity and her professionalism in implementing this project! We regret that she couldn’t stay with us longer!
 
The preface of the book and a recipe will be written by a renowned French chef who is involved too in access to education for everyone ! Big thanks to this chef whose name will be kept secret for now!
 
Finally, we would like to send our warmest thanks to Natan and Pasquier foundations who are financing this project and enable us to make a beautiful book!
 
The pastry cookbook is in progress and should be ready for sale in 2017. Keep updated!
 

, 26 September 2016

Summer camp 2016: the scouts share their experience

On every summer holiday, some volunteers go to Cambodia and organize activities for the primary school students. In August 2016, we welcomed the Passy scouts, a group of seven young studets. Some of them wrote about these two weeks in our NGO.
 
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Vitalie: « I found the children happy, vigorous and always very enthusiastic »
 
For two weeks, we have been in charge of grade 3 and then grade 4. Each class had its particularities but I remain with very good memories of all the children! Every day was organized the following way: a two hour lesson on the morning, on English vocabulary, mathematics, geography… Every morning, we would revise the previous days’ lessons and use the same format. The children were generally motivated. The best pupils would whisper the answers to the others and they would stuggle pronouncing the « sh » of « fish », but they were very motivated and showed willing. We would favor the use of paper and boost their writing by asking to spell words and write them on the board, which could take some time but I think they will still remember these lessons.
 
After a well-deserved break, during which the boys woul play football, we would organize sports activities for the second part of the morning: chicken-fox, beret and other scout games. We first failed in explaining the games, but then a khmer teacher joined to translate the explanations and make communication easier. After that, the games worked really well and they globally liked it, even asked for more! After a good lunch break, we would start the afternoon activities.
 
Those could vary: activities in the classroom about logics, labyrinths (they would solve them quicked than us), puzzles (we noticed a different logic) or arts activities: painting, clay on the ground, origami, wristbands making (with their own method)…
 
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The day would generally end with football for the boys and games for the girls. On the last day, we organized Olympic activities and offered the grade 3 students to come back to the school for this special day. Some of them showed up, which made us very happy! They all made it a great day!
 
I thought the children happy, vigorous and always very enthusiastic when we suggested games, they were also motivated and resourceful, even though in a different logic. Even is communication wasn’t always easy, there was always someone to help out, but we would remain autonomous in organizing the activities. Some teachers like Mrs Pok took part of the activities! I keep great memories, this experience within Bayon School was very fulfilling and I would be delighted to go again.
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Louis: « Upon contact with these children, we got very humble »
 
When we went to Bayon coffee shop for the first time, we were warmly welcmed by the staff of the NGO which kindly hosted us in the Pastry School. The relationships there were very friendly from the start. They made it easy for us so that we spend two beautiful weeks!
 
On the Monday morning, we headed towards Bayon primary school to meet the grade 3 children for the first time. Their shyness quickly disappeared in favor of enthusiasm for the activities we were offering. Communicating was a daily challenge which just strengthened the bonds between the Khmer children and our team. We learnt their names, the way we pronounce them were often followed by laughters. Upon contact with these children, we got very humble and I had two amazing weeks. To give my time to people in need is a pleasure and when these people give back to you, it is even more rewarding!
 
Let’s not forget the Bayon coffee shop, which would remind us of our country with their good French pastries!
Big thanks to all the members of Bayon School who made this trip an extraordinary experience which will remain to me a week of sharing and happiness!
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Hugues: « Neither trip nor humanitarian activity had taught me so much before »
 
Neither trip nor humanitarian activity had taught me so much as this mission with Bayon school students, as culturally as on the human side. It was a pleasure to teach and play with children who were so involved in their work and their will to make progress. Besides, we had a good welcome from the staff members, who kindly hosted us and gave us some advice on the activities, while still letting us be independent and providing us with a part of the supply we needed.
 
If I had to live this experience again, I wouldn’t think twice before saying Yes!
 
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Hilzonde: « I was with much emotion that we said goodbye on the last Friday »
 
After getting over the jetlag, I can now put words on my experience in Cambodia, for Bayon School. My six scout pals and I have given classes with the grades 3 and 4 students of the primary school on the morning and organized sports and arts activities on the afternoon.
 
For these two weeks, everything went fantastic and a few anecdotes remains in my mind. Indeed, almost 10 000 km away from home, differences are bound to happen. For instance, after teaching the children the family member vocabulary in English, we realized they were not familiar at all with family trees. Also, the geography exercises showed that they were unable to place Cambodia on a world map (now they now it, as well as France  ). Finally, one day we asked them to do a puzzle and it was their first time. The beginning was complicated.
 
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After these 3 surprising things, we were marked by their joy and constant smile. The children were very proactive, especially in mathematics, and they were happy to go to school although it was holiday. Concerning the arts and sports activities, they proved to be better than us at making wristbands and the boys replayed the 2016 Euro in the pagoda.
 
Even if we didn’t speak the same language, we have created bonds very quicky. They were between 11 and 14 years old but looked younger and were very sweet. We were glad when some of them would join us on the way to school and would ride the final 10th kilometer with us.
 
It was with much emotion that we said goodbye on the last Friday, knowing that we would miss the Kids party on the Sunday because of our flight to Paris. I would have been blissful to stay for one more week!
 
I will miss the coffee shop and the local temperature!
 
Thank you Claire for welcoming us in the NGO and letting us achieve this project we cared about so much, thank you Julie and Chloé for making us feel comfortable and giving us your expats’ tips!
 
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Bayon School thanks Adrien, Agathe, Alice, Hilzonde, Hugues, Louis and Vitalie!
View all the pictures on our Facebook page.

, 6 September 2016

Our former volunteers get together in Paris!

From the left to the right on the picture: Alexandra, Perrine, Mayelle, Marion, Faye, Alice, Marie-Axelle, Clio, Jérémy and Michael

In the last two years, more than 30 persons have volunteered, from a few weeks to a few months, at Bayon School to put their skills and energy at the service of our numerous projects. To organize a holiday camp or to develop the Coffee Shop, their help has been more than welcomed to succeed in our mission.

Therefore, back in France, we wanted to thank them once more for their support by organizing a “former volunteer meeting”. A dozen of them joined us for a nice evening in a Parisian bar. It was a great opportunity to catch up with everyone and share with them the latest news of Bayon School.

A reunion filled with the wonderful memories of all the time spent with the students of Bayon School!

, 16 March 2016

Our volunteers visit the families

Our 18 years old volunteers Faustine and Sam were recently given a new mission: go with our social officer Viseth to the family visits.

 

What is it?
The family visits consist in meeting the family of each student of the primary school in order to assess their living conditions. They also enable us to notice potential problems and find solutions so that the child can keep studying. When it is possible, the social workers go with another person to have a more neutral point of view on each case, not forget key elements and of course, feel safer in case of litigation. Each family is visited once a year.

 

Story of the first visits
“Sam and I (Faustine) have been volunteering in Bayon School for several months and have the opportunity to be part of the family visits. We alternate every day to go with Viseth. It is a great experience because it confronts us to the living conditions of the children we support at the school, and in a general way to the living conditions of a significant part of the Cambodians, much more difficult in the countryside than in Siem Reap where we live.

 

On the early morning, we go by motorbike towards the villages located within the site of Angkor. Between two and four children are waiting for us at the meeting point ordered by Viseth. Among them, one stays with us all day to go from a house to another one; we call him our “Tour guide”. Once arrived in front of the house, we meet the parents and children and are very well welcomed. Then, Viseth asks questions aimed at determining their living conditions: access to water, to electricity, toilets, building materials for the house, number of children to support… We also focus on the parents’ income, their daily expenses, the bank loans, their possibility to save up or not, their belongings (lands, animals…). We realize the hard reality of their everyday life. For instance, we met several mothers who work at home, making high quality hand-made baskets. They told us that they sell them for 2000 riels ($0.5) each. We were very surprised because we use to see the same baskets sold in local markets for $5 minimum! At the end of the visit, we put heads together to determine if we change the level that we attributed to the family during the recruitment. Eventually, we take a picture of the family in front of their house to keep a record of the visit.”

Faustine visite familles

Bayon family visit

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Sam visite familles

Family visits bayon school

, 3 February 2016

“Yes, no more school!”

 

Like every August, the school year ends for our students. It is now time to go on a new adventure and start the Holiday Camp! Sports, manual activities, team games and much more are planned. Our mission: bringing fun and educational games to the young Bayon students!   A big thanks to Bayon High School students for their most appreciated help, their commitment to the holiday camp and their very useful translations from English to Khmer. We will remember kindly the few misunderstandings that led to some innovative and original game rules…but what’s more fun than that! For the most curious ones, a short anecdote: proud to have gathered enough rolls of paper to do an activity, we had a good laugh at seeing their skeptical faces regarding the purpose of this object!

Spending 3 weeks with the children was a surprising and fun experience. – Lucie

Bayon School is also the school of smiling and sharing, where everyone’s commitment give a true meaning to the wonderful experience. – Flora

The mixing of cultures, the sharing of ideas, the games and the children’ smiles are the biggest treasures of this amazing adventures. – Solène

, 31 August 2015