Welcome Back Lisa Hoffmeyer!

Posted on Jan 8, 2017

We are thrilled with the return of a former volunteer, Lisa Hoffmeyer. Lisa volunteered for six months in 2014, helping in a number of ways, but especially with the English programs. We really appreciate Lisa returning to share her time and talents with the staff and students. We asked Lisa to share her story about how she got “hooked” by Cambodia and the work of Spitler School.

“I am thrilled to be back in Siem Reap for my second time volunteering at Spitler and Kurata schools!

Like Danny and Pam Spitler, I was fortunate to have Chea Sarin as my guide while vacationing in Cambodia in 2008. As a professional in the nonprofit world in the US, when Sarin mentioned his involvement in a new NGO school in a small village outside Siem Reap,  I was definitely up for a visit.

If hadn’t already fallen in love with the country and its lovely people, my visit to Spitler certainly clinched it. I was completely charmed by the smiling faces of the children and the dedication of the teachers in the small thatched classroom. And of course, like many visitors to the Cambodia, I was struck by the dichotomy of my life in the US and all that we take for granted as compared with life in a rural village here. I knew then that day that one day I would return.

Fast forward 5 years, I took a sabbatical from my job and with my shiny new TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Certificate in hand, I returned to Siem Reap and the schools for a planned three-month stint of volunteering. It was great to see how much the school had grown – 600 students! I loved my time in Siem Reap so much, the three months quickly turned into six, and with the patient help of Jim Latt, the school’s Volunteer Coordinator, my teaching skills slowly improved. Yes, the bike ride from town to the village and back was HOT! No, the solar-powered ceiling fans in the classrooms barely move the air. And YES, I enjoyed every minute of it! Incorporating games into my teaching plan was a big hit – the kids begged for BINGO, we had flash card races and acted out Jack in the Beanstalk – basically whatever I could think of to keep their attention and incorporate English into the lesson. I also helped out the “real” English teachers in the classroom as 50 kids is a bit much to manage on one’s own. My hat goes off to Ratha and Hoy – they are superstars.

It seems I can’t stay away, so I’m back again for another few months. It’s been wonderful to see all the teachers and staff again and I’m looking forward to working with the new English instructors, Poley and Sophal. Between Kurata and Spitler, attendance is now up to 800 now, so there’s lots to do and I can’t wait to get started!”


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