The new school year at Bayon Pastry School

My name is Camille. I study in a business school and just joined the Bayon team, as part of my career project of working in international solidarity. After an eight-months experience in the charity sector in France, and a six-months experience starting up a business, I wanted to explore the charity sector on the ground. I wanted to get involved in a solidarity project in the education and development sector and then joined Bayon School.
Despite arriving in a rainy Cambodia – it was wet season – I was given a warm welcome by the whole Bayon team and the last few students from the previous year who were still living in the school.

Throughout the days, I am taking my marks. I really enjoy my mission, as I will be working across the pastry and the primary school. I also try to learn a few words in Khmer and discover the Cambodian cuisine, which is fantastic. The school is providing me with an accommodation on the pastry school’s top floor.
On my first Sunday there, twenty-two young women join the school. They arrive little by little, either on their own or with their family, by tuk-tuk or on a scooter, all with a big smile on their faces.
My first contact with them is a bit tricky, because of the language barrier but also because I feel like I intimidate them. They stoop when walking by me! I’m looking forward to them speaking English so that we can chat. For now, even though we can’t really speak, we smile at each other, which creates a start of a relationship. They settle in their room, shared between 6 students, and they already seem to be making friends and having fun.

On the first morning with my new neighbours, I find out they are early birds! At 6 am, they are already up. I can tell they are excited, almost impatient.
9:30 is the big time: all team members and students introduce themselves. As Rodrigo and Anaïs introduce themselves, the students seem impressed and have no idea they also are on their first day as mission coordinators. They then meet Srey Leak, coffee shop manager and graduate from the school’s first intake. The training suddenly becomes very real to them. Here we are: new year, new intake, and it feels emotional.
On the next day, I want to have dinner with the students. Unfortunately, they’ve already had dinner and only two of them are still seated at the kitchen table. Luckily, they know a few English words and we try to chat. We talk about our meal and I ask them how they find their first classes. They seem really happy when they tell me they liked them.
I’m looking forward to the next four months – seeing the students evolve and become great pastry cooks. They won’t need to beg me to be their pastries and cakes guinea pigs! On both the personal and professional level, I am excited about learning new things with the fabulous Bayon team, who are full of energy and kindness.
, 17 September 2018