Where we work / Cambodia

Cambodia is beaming with opportunities.


University students in the capital city of Phnom Penh are eager and excited to meet you. Our teachers are looking forward to helping you connect with the community and put you in a position to thrive as you teach and influence young leaders. The laid-back culture of Cambodia is a perfect fit for those looking to connect with students over coffee and enjoy meaningful conversations with new and curious friends.

You can also explore the various short-term programs we offer in Cambodia.

ELIC sent its first team of six people to China in 1982. It is unlikely that any other single country is destined to have such sweeping global influence in the 21st century. Work alongside and build friendships with the future generations of China both inside and outside the classroom.

frequently asked


Job Description

Where could I teach within Cambodia?

We have teachers in Phnom Penh, Kampong Thmar,
and Kampong Thom Province.

What are the responsibilities of the role?

This is a full-time teaching role, so teachers are responsible to maintain at least 25 campus hours per week, and prepare for/teach 15 classroom hours per week.

Teachers collaborate with local employees of the school, including other teachers, directors, or the dean.

They build intentional and appropriate relationships with students, families, faculty, and the community, and seek opportunities to have deep conversations, lift for students and the campus, and model Son-like behavior.

Teachers should arrive on campus on time to be ready to teach well from the beginning of each semester and stay long enough to finish grading. Breaks in the school calendar at the end of each semester are the times when teachers can leave the city.

Teachers should stay connected with regular updates to North American partners and supporters. This includes attention to company communication standards.

Teachers will have support from the Cambodia leadership team to maintain a personal plan for growth in professional and personal development, language and culture, and team life.

Ongoing healthy feedback is provided as teachers commit to participating in campus team and country meetings, activities, regular fellowship group, and training events along with twice-a-year check-ins with the team leader.

Whether in person or online, teachers will actively engage in language and culture development through avenues such as language study for at least one hour per week.

Teachers must adhere to all company policies and professionally uphold the needs of our educational partners.

Requirements |  Policies:

Punctuality is key. Arrive for class prepared with lesson plans and materials for class.

A commitment to working, learning, and growing alongside a team of peers.

Teachers under contract with a host institution should not be involved in outside employment. 

Volunteer work should not interfere with current school lesson preparation, teaching, and other team responsibilities

What is the student demographic?

Students in Cambodia have various English language experience. Some have had private tutors and training since they were very young. Other students have only studied English in the primary and secondary classroom. A spectrum of skills will always exist within the groups. The divide often falls along economic and geographic lines, with students from the city generally having a higher English level than those from provinces. The students are warm and friendly. They are eager to improve their English because it is often a requirement for employment.

Like most universities in Cambodia, students live off-campus and commute to school. The university has a limited sports program and a few social activities for the students. Teachers build relationships with students using the English library, which is connected to our office. The team hosts reading and conversation clubs to spend time with students and help them practice English. Another way teachers build relationships with students is by inviting students into their homes for games, dinner, and conversation, or by going out for meals, coffee, or movies.

How much classroom prep time is required/expected each week?

This varies from teacher to teacher, but on average, each teacher takes two hours each week to write a lesson plan and prepare their classrooms for teaching. Our teachers benefit from access to materials from past teachers who have taught the course.

Will the teacher have an office on campus? Will the teacher be expected to hold office hours?

One main function of the English office is to house the English library our teachers have developed in addition to the university library. To monitor the library, as well as assist our teachers with small administrative and cleaning responsibilities, our RULE team employs student library workers. Relationships with the library workers at RULE have turned out to be a strong connection between students and teachers.

The library includes a good selection of English books, including fiction and nonfiction, at various levels. Students may borrow books, but they also enjoy spending time reading, playing games, or studying in the library. The English library has been an excellent way to build relationships with students. Any books and magazines (appropriate content in mind) brought from the United States to be added to the library for students would be greatly appreciated. The RULE team leader will be able to recommend what books are needed at the time.

How many teachers are currently placed in Cambodia?

We currently have 18 teachers in this country.

How will the new teacher engage with non-ELIC faculty and teachers at this school?

As a team, we are always working on strengthening our relationships with local teachers. Our team may engage other faculty members by collaborating on classes or research, facilitating professional development sessions, and spending time together in the office.

What are the bare minimum degree requirements needed by a new teacher in this role?

Teachers must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in this role.

What are the ideal degree requirements needed by a new teacher in this role?

A bachelor’s or master’s degree is ideal.

What are the experience or resume qualifications needed by a new teacher in this role? Is prior teaching experience necessary?

Prior teaching experience is not necessary, just a bachelor’s degree. The extensive training we provide for new teachers will help people from any professional or educational background to be equipped to teach well.

Are there age restrictions for a new teacher?

There is no age restriction.

What's something the new teacher will learn after their first week in the classroom that will be a challenge for them as they move forward?

Many students have names that new teachers will never have heard and may have difficulty pronouncing.

Students will have different levels of English. It can be challenging to learn how to teach a group of mixed-level students.

The new teacher will learn that Khmer classroom culture is very different from American classroom culture and this influences classroom management strategies. This may be a challenge, but is also a great way to see aspects of who the Father is in the teacher/student dynamic.

What else is important to know about the job?

We have our own office space with air conditioning, and the classrooms have air conditioning as well! We also have a library where students enjoy hanging out. The RULE campus aslo has its very own cafe where students can grab a quick coffee with their teachers after class.

During non-Covid years, there are plenty of opportunities to spend time with students outside of class, From English clubs to a Christmas party (we take over the entire courtyard!). We love investing in our students and getting to know them on a deeper level.

Team dynamics

What are the current team size and team demographic in the cities?

For 2021-2022, Team RULE is made up of 9 American teachers, 1 co-laboring spouse, and 4 children (15 people total). 

For 2021-2022, Team NUM is made up of 1 Canadian and 4 American teachers, 1 co-laboring spouse, and 4 children (10 people total).

For 2021-2022, Team KECC is made up of 4 American teachers.

Where are some of the team members from in the US or Canada? Hometowns? Alma maters?

Here are some of our team members’  hometowns:

Fresno, CA
Riverside, CA
Jacksonville Beach, FL
Marion, IN
Lindsborg, KS
Wareham, MA
Portland, OR
Franklin, TN
Industry, TX
Longview, TX
Wichita Falls, TX

Hudson, WI
Chilliwack, B.C. Canada
Chiang Mai, Thailand

Here are some of our team members’ alma maters:

California Baptist University
California State University
Century Community College
Colorado Christian University
Duke University
Eastern Nazarene College
Florida Atlantic University
Indiana Wesleyan University
LeTourneau University
Middle Tennessee State University
Newcastle University
Multnomah Bible College
University of Hardin-Baylor (UMHB)
University of Phoenix
Washburn University
Wheaton College

How often do you see your teammates each week in formal team meetings?

There are the weekly team commitments: Life group, faculty meetings, and team learning. Life group is generally two to three hours long. Team meetings, including faculty meetings and team learning, are typically an hour or less.

We meet once per week for life group and once per month for team learning. We also often meet up to lesson plan together.

In Kampong Thmar, our team participates in several meetings each week which include fellowship and life group. Professional development sessions are typically once or twice a month. Faculty meetings and team learning sessions are held monthly as well. First-year teachers will have an additional weekly meeting to check their lesson plans with their mentors.

What do formal team meetings entail? What's the takeaway? Why do you meet? What's the value of formal team time?

Here are a few examples from teams: 

Team meetings vary from week to week. Typically, the first week is going over the school calendar and assigning tasks. The following weeks cover the following topics: Professional Development, Team/Community Building, Fun Day. Team/Community Building is typically more conversation focused while Fun Day is, as the name suggests, a time for the team to hang out and have fun in community.

Each meeting is a bit different. Fellowship and lifegroup are focused on spending time as a team in the Word. Professional development sessions are for the purpose of learning more about topics related to teaching and thinking of ways to apply the principles you learn to your own classroom. Team learning meetings are discussions about a variety of topics to help you grow individually and as a team. Faculty meetings focus on a variety of topics relating to the team’s interaction with the school and logistical issues such as “Wow to run the copier,” “How to get your tickets for conference,” etc.

How often do you see your teammates each week informally...just for fun? And what do you do together?

Some teammates will be your best friends. Other teammates are great colleagues and mentors. Individuals on the team have a variety of interests from physical activities to niche hobbies. Since we’re a larger country team, you may hang out with some teammates every day or only see some every now and then outside of team-scheduled events.

In the city, it’s easy to get together with other city teammates, whether from the same university or the other one. We often have meals together, watch movies, play games, and just hang out.

Team KECC is unique in that all team members have the same teaching schedule. Because of this, you are able to spend as much time together as there is the desire to do so. You can take drives in the countryside, drive to town to visit coffee shops or the market, or just hang out. We’ve also played a variety of games, as well as gone swimming or taken walks on the resort.

Share a fun team story.

Our team has intentional “work parties,” where we meet at one person’s home to work together while our office on campus is closed. One afternoon during a work party, we decided to make it into a La La Land-themed party. We cooked fried chicken and waffles and watched the movie together.

This year, our team took a trip to Siem Reap together. We ate lots of good food, spent a day following elephants around feeding and bathing them, and went to the Cambodian circus. We had all been to Siem Reap before, but we wanted to go again to have a weekend away together.

My first year in Cambodia, my team and I were putting together Christmas gifts for the school faculty and were working together to wrap the gifts. However, one of the gifts didn’t fit in the amount of wrapping paper we had. We spent close to an hour trying to figure out a way to wrap this gift, and we just laughed over not being able to make it work. Soon after this, our team leader (who had been in a meeting in her room) came out, surveyed the situation, and simply stated, “I have a bag. Do you want a bag?” At this, we all continued laughing as we conceded defeat and accepted her bag.

Share a meaningful team story.

We have had some really meaningful conversations with students through our leadership studies. We’ve talked about topics such as self-worth, servant leadership, margins, and what it takes to be a person of influence. These leadership studies provide opportunities for us to invest in our students on a deeper level and get to know them more outside of class time.

In the late fall of my second year, we found out that we would be welcoming an intern to our team in February. This meant that someone needed to move out of the main house into a bungalow. It made the most sense for it to be me. As I processed the upcoming move, I realize that it was something that felt very difficult for me due to some previous experiences related to moving suddenly. I shared my feelings about it with my team and they were so supportive and helpful in that process. I remember us talking about it at dinner one evening and it was mentioned “we don’t know everything that comes with a teammate, but we do know that it is them now, plus everything from their lives prior to moving to Cambodia and we love all of those parts.” It was such an impactful experience personally, as well as for our team.

Katrina Swan shared, “This team has been a huge emotional and spiritual support. When I received some news from family back in the States, I went into a deep emotional funk. My teammates walked alongside me and held me accountable to continue moving forward. One of my teammates showed up at my house and made me go for a walk. Another teammate texted me to let me know I was in their thoughts. They helped me to get through the funk and continue to grow in the Father.”

City and Everyday Life

How long has ELIC been in cities in Cambodia?

We have been in Phnom Penh: since 2000, and in Kampong Thmar and Kampong Thom Province: since 2017.

What does the first-week typically look like for new teachers? How do they get their lives "started"?

These days teachers participate in “quarientation” (orientation while in quarantine). In normal years, there is orientation without the quarantine. In-country orientation involves language study, Cambodia-specific cultural lessons, and information about team life. Returning teammates help incoming teachers get set up with a place to live, furnishings, a sim card, and anything else they might need. There will also be intentional team-building times and meals with returning teammates during this period.

The first week in the Kampong Thmar is typically filled with settling into life here. This means you will spend time unpacking and settling into the house. There will also be a tour of the school so that teachers can see where their classrooms are located. There will be intentional time spent together as a team in order to get to know one another and continue to grow in unity together. In addition to time spent with teammates, teachers will have the opportunity to explore Kampong Thmar and the resort. In Kampong Thmar, teachers will get to see what the market looks like, visit local coffee stands, and even have the opportunity to drop off and pick up some laundry. There will also be time to run any errands needed to pick up supplies such as bedspreads, trash cans, and snacks.

What does housing look like in Cambodia? How far away are housing options from the school? From your teammates?

In Phnom Penh, there are many good options for housing at prices ranging from $250-$650/month depending on the neighborhood, the type of home, and whether the teacher lives alone or with others. A teacher that shares a simple two or three-floor flat with another teacher may pay $200-$300 per month for rent. A house with a yard would range from $500-$800 per month. A stipend from the university should cover all living expenses for singles and most expenses for couples/families with only one full-time teacher. The remaining cost of housing and basic utilities (water, trash, and electricity) comes out of the teacher’s profile. The Country Director or leadership team will assist new teachers in arranging an adequate living situation. Some houses are already furnished and have air-conditioning, hot water heaters in the showers, and other western conveniences. Often, washing machines and other appliances are either provided or can be negotiated into the housing contract/lease.

Housekeeping, cooking, and laundry can be time-consuming chores. Some teachers hire a cook/housekeeper for around $90 or less per month to cook one to two meals a day, do laundry, and clean. Housekeepers can also be hired to come once or twice per week, starting at around $35 per month. Housekeepers can be found through other expatriates or team members who can recommend someone they know. It is best to speak to one of the returning teachers before hiring a housekeeper. There are several things to consider before hiring someone, such as the expectations an employee may have of an employer. Another good place to hear about housekeepers is the ICF Infoflow. Simply go to the ICF website https://www.icfpp.org/ and register to receive their Infoflow e-mail update. You can find housekeepers, roommates, furniture, and more advertised there.

NOTE: Having a house helper in Cambodia is a very normal activity. It creates jobs, contributes to the economy, and gives us the opportunity to show love to the poorer class of Cambodia. It is also a real learning experience. Humility is learned through the wisdom and life experience of seasoned house helpers.

Utilities average approximately $60-$100 per month per person for electricity, assuming a teacher uses A/C during the night when sleeping and periodically throughout the day. If A/C is not used, the electric bill will be significantly less. Water is about $3-6 per month per person and the garbage fee is $5-10 per month per rental. Teachers should try to pay for utilities from their school stipend first in order to keep the profile amount at a minimum.

What is the local currency in Cambodia? Do people typically carry cash? Credit cards?

Cambodia uses US dollars, so for those coming from the US, there is no need to exchange your cash into Khmer Riel upon arrival. The exchange rate stays around 4000 Riel to 1 USD. Please note that often vendors will refuse torn bills or old bills. If you withdraw money from your local bank, you can kindly request bills that are new and in good condition. Tip: Explaining that some vendors will not accept the bills can help the tellers assist you in a more understanding way. Also, more and more businesses do take credit cards but know that occasionally, you might be asked to pay the 2-3% fee credit card companies charge the vendor (which is not a scam).

ATMs are all over Phnom Penh accepting most debit and credit cards. Most ATMs only allow $250 to be withdrawn a day. However, some ATMs will allow you to take out as much as $500 at a time. Please bring an ATM card for extra cash needs.

The universities will help each teacher set up a bank account and will then have an electronic stipend deposited every month for teaching. This will also provide you with a local ATM card to withdraw your money and help pay your bills. This helps to offset the cost of living, teaching supplies, and other needs. Most teachers are able to live on their stipend each month, without having to use the personal allowance.

If you take rent money from your profile, the business manager will give it to you in cash around the 3rd of each month. Try to pay for rent out of your school stipend before using profile funds if possible.

How do people generally travel to their school? What is public transportation like in the city?

If they live close, they walk. Others have hired a car and driver, although this is more expensive. Purchasing a bicycle is also an option. Most teachers purchase motorcycles and use those to drive to and from school and around the cities.

There are also many ride-hailing apps available, the most popular including PassApp and Grab. These are often significantly cheaper than negotiating with tuk tuks. 

Our teachers in Kampong Thom will be given the advantage of riding a motorbike while they are in the province. This will help them get to the market without having to walk across the main highway or get a ride from a stranger. Two team bicycles are available for riding around the resort or to and from school. Teachers will also be able to take a bus or taxi from the resort to Phnom Penh.

What is Cambodia culturally known for? Where are fun spots to take new visitors?

Over two million people reside in the capital city of Phnom Penh. Dozens of foreign companies invest in Cambodia, and they usually plant their headquarters in Phnom Penh. Luxury apartments and fancy office buildings are popping up throughout the developing city. There are several modern shopping malls. The growing middle-class of Cambodians is partaking in restaurants, vacation destinations, attending better universities, and packing the newly paved streets with vehicles. Though there seems to be widespread prosperity, there is still some poverty and crime. During this time of political stability, Cambodians are enjoying Western influences and embracing non-traditional entertainment and practices. Buddhist influence is evident in the numerous ‘wats’ (pagodas) located throughout the city. It is not uncommon to see monks walking barefoot through the streets asking for alms or to see children playing in the courtyard of the wat. The extremes on the economic continuum can be seen here. Huge villas, beautifully decorated, with a Mercedes parked in the garage, next to neighbors in shacks made of various materials are not an uncommon sight. Motorbikes zoom along dusty city roads while women sell bread in large baskets on street corners. Bustling markets are part of everyday life in Phnom Penh. 

Non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) have come to aid Cambodia by the dozens from all over the world. The NGOs are both secular and sacred, governmental and private, and privately funded and state (home country) funded, aiming to impact Cambodia for a better future.  Our organization is not under the umbrella of a religious organization nor a registered NGO. We are invited guests of the Royal Government of Cambodia as foreign experts. 

Tourism in Cambodia is growing rapidly as infrastructure develops and internal peace is prolonged. The Cambodian people are fiercely nationalistic and proud of their rich history. Their ancestors founded the city of Angkor Wat, which had a sprawling population of about a million inhabitants at the time when London was merely a village. The people are eager to share their heritage and show visitors the beauties of the Bayons and Angkor temples, the mystery of the Mekong River, the wonder of the freshwater dolphins of Tonle Sap (Fresh-water Lake), serene beaches, and lush rice paddies. No doubt, if peace is maintained, Cambodia will flourish to reclaim the title “Pearl of the Orient.”

The Royal Palace, the home of the king and queen, is a must-see. Inside the Palace grounds is the Silver Pagoda, containing 5,000 silver floor tiles.

Tuol Sleng Museum —in 1975, the Khmer Rouge turned Tuol Svay Prey High School into a center of detention and torture. More than 17,000 people were held there before being sent to an extermination camp. Now the school has been turned into a museum filled with photos and torture equipment. This museum is not an easy place to visit, but it gives you insight into what the Cambodian people went through. In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge in some way affected everyone you come in contact with.

The National Museum consists mostly of Buddhist artifacts, a large number of which came from Angkor Wat.

Quite a few sidewalk restaurants run along the Tonle Sap and Bassac rivers and are a common stomping ground for expatriates. On any given day, the supermarkets and numerous foreign-run eateries can be a fun treat.

What does shopping for food look like in the city? Do people normally eat out? Cook for themselves? Share meals with teammates?

The food in Cambodia is nutritious. Vegetables and fruit are plentiful and relatively inexpensive, although special care should be taken to wash each piece carefully. There are special washes available at grocery stores. Fruits should be peeled before eating. Budget around $4.00-$7.00 per day per person if you’re eating in your home.

In the past, some teachers have hired an in-home cook. Not many teachers use a cook today, but there are benefits to hiring a cook. A cook can save teachers money because they can often purchase food at a cheaper rate than a foreigner. Cooking/going to the market in Cambodia is more time-consuming than in the west. Khmer cooks also help you to learn to appreciate Cambodian cuisine at home. A typical meal at home consists of soup, a meat and vegetable dish, and rice.

The tap water is NOT safe to drink. Our teachers usually purchase five-gallon containers of water from a local distributor that delivers to the home. They can also buy a system with a water filter which will save them money in the long run and also the hassle of having to call for water to be delivered.

There are many good restaurants in Phnom Penh. It is easy to find Khmer, Chinese, Thai, Korean, Mexican, Italian, Greek, German, Russian, Swiss, Indian, and American cuisines. There are also several fast-food burger restaurants and most local restaurants that deliver pizza and other meals to your home. The prices range from very cheap to comparable with US prices, depending on the restaurant.

There are several international grocery stores that have many western name-brand products. The prices may or may not be more expensive than in the US, but it is still cheaper to buy locally than to ship. There are also several good Cambodian markets that have many products including food, clothing, and household goods for reasonable prices.

What do meals look like during school hours? Do teachers share meals with students?

There are a few options for meals during school hours. Some teachers pack their lunches and keep it in our office fridge. We also have a microwave that can be used to heat food up. Some teachers go out to get lunch to go or have it delivered to the school. Lastly, many teachers choose to eat at the school canteen or cafeteria. They eat with other teachers and/or invite students to join.

In Kampong Thmar we teach from 1:00pm-4:00pm. So, we typically do not eat meals at school. However, if you would like, you can go to school early and share a meal with some of the students or grab a snack at one of the canteens in between classes. The canteens have fruit, packaged snacks, and various drink options.

What local dish is the city known for?

Phnom Penh isn’t really known for a specific dish. But there are a lot of delicious local foods such as pork and rice, rice porridge, fried noodles, noodle soup, and curry with rice noodles.

A few of our team favorites are: baay sach chruk (pork and rice), lok lak (beef and pepper sauce with egg), and amok (a light curry often served with fish or chicken). There are also lots of great places for coffee and tea!

You can find these typical Khmer dishes in Kampong Thmar as well. 

Does Cambodia have any western chain stores or restaurants?

Due to a large number of expatriates living here, Phnom Penh is full of western supermarkets. You rarely have to do without something. Prices are similar or higher than that of the US.

What's your favorite thing to do as a team in the city? What do people do for fun or during downtime?

Some of the fun things to do with teammates in Phnom Penh include seeing movies at the cinema, going for bike rides or walks down by the riverside, or just hanging out at the many amazing cafes. Other options include shopping, visiting restaurants, or  taking a cooking class. Living in a close community also allows for many game nights and Taco Tuesdays.

Our favorite things to do in Kampong Thmar are to go on moto (motorcycle) rides. We love to drive around, explore, and see different parts of Kampong Thmar that we have not seen before. It’s a nice way to relax and enjoy the beauty of the area. There are so many options for things to do during downtime. You can go for a walk, a run, a bike ride. On the resort, there is also a tennis court, two swimming pools, and a water park. There are also different drink stands that you can visit. Each one has a slightly different selection of teas, coffees, and fruit drinks (a favorite is passion fruit soda). The market is also fun to explore. There are so many fun things to find such as baskets, clothes, headbands, etc.

How do people exercise in the city?

Recreation includes walking, biking, swimming, playing sports, going bowling, going to the gym, and playing soccer.

Most recreation takes place during the day. Students love showing their teacher the different sightseeing spots. Our Cambodia teachers are required to adhere to a 9:30 pm curfew due to the fact that Phnom Penh is not yet safe enough for those “hanging out” late into the evening.

Our teachers in Kampong Thom live on a resort! There are outdoor sports and great amounts of nature for walking and talking. There are several swimming pools in the resort. The school also has a baseball field. An artificial turf soccer field is also located in the area. Other types of recreation can be found in Siem Reap, about three hours away, or Phnom Penh, about two and a half hours away.

How do people spend their weekends in the city? Are there cities nearby that people typically visit for a weekend away?

Typically, teammates spend their weekends resting and enjoying work-free days to focus on relationships and fun. Some people go biking, others meet up with students or teammates at cafes, and others find time to watch new movies that come out. Of course, Sunday is usually filled with fellowship time and meals with teammates. However, some people take advantage of Friday or Monday holidays and plan a weekend trip to nearby provinces known for beautiful nature and good food such as Kep, Kampot, or Sihanoukville. Some teachers also enjoy visiting our teammates in Kampong Thmar for a weekend at Bronze Lake Resort.

In Kampong Thom, weekends can be spent in several different ways. About once a month, we travel together as a team to Phnom Penh where we will get groceries, rest, and catch up with teammates there. If the weekend is spent in Kampong Thmar, people often lesson plan, relax by the pool, read a book, and visit the food stand and coffee stands. Siem Riep is about three hours away. This is a great spot to spend the weekend. There you can visit Angkor Wat and markets. Siemp Riep also has a wide variety of restaurants and coffee shops. It is a fun place to explore and relax.

What's your favorite coffee shop and/or restaurants in the city?

Some favorite coffee shops include Brown (a Cambodian-created and run franchise with amazing coffee), La Chronique (a smaller, more quaint cafe with an antiquey vibe), or Suzy’s Anti Cafe (a place where you can set up shop for many hours and order as many drinks as you’d like!). It is almost impossible to choose the most popular restaurants since there are so many to choose from. Phnom Penh boasts an incredible international eatery, including foods from the Middle East, South Asia, Thailand, Vietnam, and western favorites like burgers and pizza.

In Kampong Thom, a favorite coffee shop is actually a coffee stand. We love visiting this stand because the seller has really amazing coffee and a really good passion soda. All of her drinks are only 3,000 Riel ($0.75 USD). This is a favorite because the drinks are not expensive. The owner is really lovely to talk with, and she speaks excellent English. A favorite restaurant there is also a stand. They have really good burgers, fried rice, and fried noodles.

What will a new teacher be surprised to have learned after their first 60 days in the city?

A new teacher will be surprised to see the contrast that is Cambodia. In a country that is so rooted in traditions and history, there are so many obvious western influences and imports. The dichotomy of being in the Kingdom of Wonder filled with stores and goods from abroad can be quite startling.

One thing that can be a bit surprising is the amount of Khmer that is used in Kampong Thmar compared to Phnom Penh. In most of the interactions in Kampong Thmar, some Khmer is necessary. This means that there can also be a bit of a learning curve as teachers figure out what words are needed in order to navigate daily life. For example, teachers will learn that the need to have a basic understanding of Khmer numbers in order to pay for laundry, purchase items at the market, and pay for any other items purchased in Kampong Thmar.

Family & growth

How do people generally work with Member Care Specialists in Cambodia?

Our teachers meet with MCS via Zoom and some in person. The norm outside of COVID-19 is to meet 2-3 times a year in person with an MCS.

What does ongoing personal/spiritual development look like in Cambodia?

Our team leaders walk alongside our team members to help facilitate their growth through check-ins and feedback. Team RULE also studies the Word together in small groups. Team Cambodia provides our team leaders with resources for Team Learning; a time for the team to study topics in LCD and CR together.

In seasons where the school was closed, our team also participated in shared personal development discussions on topics such as team conflict.

What does ongoing professional development look like in Cambodia?

Teachers observe and are observed once per semester. New teachers attend 12 ProD meetings designed for year 1 teachers, and teachers who have been here for two or more years attend at least three ProD meetings (and help lead them for new teachers). Once a year, all teachers fill out a form describing three strengths and two areas where they would like to grow in their teaching.

Since KECC is an elementary school, our team’s professional development focuses on working with young learners. These typically happen once or twice a month. For teachers who have been here two or more years, there is the opportunity to take a course from Wheaton titled English Language Learning Methods for Specialists K-12.

Is language study available in Cambodia? If so, what does that process look like for new teachers?

Yes, currently there are three options for language study in Phnom Penh: LEC, Khmer Friends, and G2K. LEC and Khmer Friends are one-on-one tutors that adjust to your schedule. They’re a great option if you need a more flexible language study schedule. G2K offers classes (not one-on-one tutoring) on a set schedule. It’s a more formal and structured language program, and our teachers have found it to be very good quality instruction.

New teachers will have an option for language study during their In-Country Orientation. After that, they can choose to continue studying with the same language school, or if they would like to try something else, the Team Administrator or their Team Leader can connect them with the other language schools.

What's it like to raise a family in Cambodia?

One of the best things about raising a family in Phnom Penh is that it has a very vibrant homeschooling community that gatherers regularly to providing a lot of opportunities for kids to play and interact together. Raising a family in Phnom Penh is more difficult than in America, but it is the easiest place for families in Cambodia. It is difficult because there aren’t a lot of open spaces in the city for kids to run around, like parks or sidewalks. 

Pre-COVID there were a lot of options like a climbing gym, Crossfit, and soccer fields to take advantage of since there aren’t a lot of green spaces in the city. There are many great hotels that have pools and facilities that make it easy to take a staycation. It can be a challenging place to connect with other families because of the frequent nature of transition, but it is doable if you are willing to be persistent and intentional to reach out.

We’ve not had any families in Kampong Thmar yet, so we can’t attest to what it would be like to raise a family there. However, if a family were interested in living in Kampong Thmar, the resort is a beautiful outdoor space with room for kids to play. It could also be a great opportunity for ELIC kids to connect with the kids at KECC.

What schooling options are available in Cambodia for ELIC families with children?

There are multiple private schools that vary in pricing and quality. Some are expensive but have high-quality facilities and curriculum, while others are sufficient in all areas. Some families choose homeschooling because of the cost and the opportunity to be present with their children as they learn and adapt to a new culture. There is a large, supportive homeschooling co-op in Phnom Penh where a lot of families get together to have fun, help teach, and support each other. There are many extracurricular activities that are available for children at private schools and local establishments, like music, soccer, or dance. One challenging thing is that the schools tend to run on a different schedule than the universities, and this can make it difficult to get home. It is possible, but it requires a bit of advance planning. 

When we brought up the possibility of a family joining team KECC, the school was open to our ELIC kids attending English classes at KECC as a way for the KECC students to practice speaking English with a peer. ELIC kids would likely homeschool and have the option of attending English classes at KECC (more as an avenue to build relationships than to study at their own level).

What roles do non-teaching spouses typically play in Cambodia?

Non-teaching spouses have the opportunity to take part in as little or as much as they feel is a good fit for them. Some non-teaching spouses have been an MCS, a CR Champion, the Business Office Manager, volunteered time at local organizations. Others have opened their homes to have students over, or to meet with local friends one on one, while others have been intentional to pour into teammates.

When we brought up the possibility of a family joining team KECC, the school suggested that the non-teaching spouse could volunteer in the library while their kids attended English classes in the afternoon. This would be up to the family to decide what they would like to do.

Additional points for families?

There is an abundance of food choices in Phnom Penh for families! From Papa John’s pizza to Khmer Street food to burgers and Mexican. My kids eat better here than in America! Honestly, the homeschool community is by far one of the greatest assets for families here. It has been an anchor for us as we’ve slowly acclimated here, and it’s been a lifeline during times of frustration and uncertainty. The expat community feels like a family, we celebrate birthdays together and vacation together.

There are expatriate fellowships that the family and kids can be a part of like Sunday School. It can be a sweet connecting point with other families outside of the team. Teammates have loved on the kids on the team, and have often become like family to the children. Having a child has opened up different opportunities to reach out to people we wouldn’t meet if we were just in the classroom. We’ve met families and friends through our child’s school and a soccer clinic, too. Parenting cross-culturally is stretching, but also a gift that helps us shine brightly. Raising a family in Cambodia has fun opportunities of (occasionally) eating spiders and regularly eating tropical fruits, riding tuk tuks, and having fun vacation opportunities. However, novelties aside, it’s an opportunity to give a child the perspective of a global citizen. Understanding and working across cultures isn’t a theory but something lived out.