Blog Week 2 Tiny Toones Day 7 6/23/10
Up until now our first week had been too busy for us to sit down and properly write a blog. Our days started early and ended late. It’s practically impossible to sleep in if you live in Phnom Penh. The bread sellers are out shouting their goods by 4:30 am and the cats and frogs scream from sun down to sun up. Most mornings, I’m awake between 5:00 and 6:00 by the sound of kids playing and the local bread vendor.
Usually, we start walking to Tiny Toones by 8:30. The walk itself is an adventure. Despite street signs, lights, and road lines, everyone seems to have their own driving etiquette. U-turns, wrong side driving, and over extended lanes are the norm on the streets of Phnom Penh. Walking to Tiny Toones everyday takes skill in knowing when to cross and when to stop in the middle of the road like a deer caught in head lights. Needless to say, I have not gained this skill yet.
Before I came I knew what Tiny Toones was about and what was offered, but I didn’t actually know how Tiny Toones was structured or how they balanced creative education with traditional formal education. Because of Tiny Toones’ coeducation program of formal education and creative education, the average day at Tiny Toones extends well into the evening. I have yet to understand the gist of the whole schedule but throughout the day until 4:00 pm English, Khmer, Art, and Computer classes are held for afternoon and morning classes. After 4:00 are the girl DJ sessions, B Girl, and B Boy classes. Spending a full day there is exhausting and still very exhilarating.
It’s amazing how infamous Tiny Toones has actually become. There’s someone coming in everyday to watch the dancing or to buy merchandise. On Tiny Toones day 4, we actually saw a full class of Australians come by the bus to see what Tiny Toones was all about. Currently, they’re preparing for a Singapore tour and in August a tour in Italy. We were asked to do a short video that the sponsors of their Italian tour requested. Essentially, we would have been free to do anything we wanted, but with the message at the end saying in Khmer and Italian, “Depends on us”. Unfortunately with our time frame we would not be able to shoot and do the editing within the month that we are here.
Going to the center everyday this past week and a half has been just as exciting as the first. The little kids in the morning won’t let you get past the door without a high five, a hug, or a fist bump (in true mini hip hop fashion). They tend to call us “cher” dropping the “tea” off of “teacher”. They all enjoy learning and especially enjoy English classes with any of the Tiny Toones volunteers. However, do not try introducing them to a new game. The children, although very open to learning, are very set in their own games and would rather teach you to play their games. Of course, not a single one of them includes standing still at all.
A lot of the young children who attend the literary classes tend to wear the same clothes everyday. Obviously it’s from a lack of funds that cause them to do this. However, the kids themselves don’t mind and do not show any indication of sadness or discomfort because of their socioeconomic standing. All of them come into Tiny Toones everyday with a smile, and most leave with one too. There are a few youngsters who tend to cry at least 3 to 4 times in a day. One of them, the son of an English teacher, is aptly named baby.
This overdue blog will need to be continued later. It’s time for breakfast and then another day at the center.