By Lori Carlson
There were times during the course of the planning and execution of constructing the library at Koh Ker School that I was sure we had all lost our minds. I’m also sure that the kind souls who shared our vision for undertaking this challenging project and gave us the money to do it, also often wondered if we had cracked!
On September 14, 2015 the community of Koh Ker joined us in a joyous celebration as we cut the ribbon on the library at last. The students, who have certainly seen plenty of books before, stood in twitchy amazement as they saw those new books surrounded by board games and legos and watercolors and snap circuits. Toys & Games! They had not seen too many of those before. Brand new furniture. Brand new books. A space that was not a classroom, a space that was for them and for them only, to be children. To play.
Everything is about to change at Koh Ker School now. Yes, they will still sit in the classroom and “repeat after me” and dutifully copy information in their notebooks. They will still learn things in class. But in the library, they will learn how to learn, through play, through creating, and through self directed trials and errors. They will play. They will sing, they will dance. And yes, they will read. They will be children figuring things out on their own and it will pay big dividends. We’ve seen it happen before.
We’ve never been more satisfied. We’ve never been so proud to be able to work with a village to deliver something with this much meaning to their community. From now on, anytime things get challenging around here and we think we might be beat, we’re going to remember “yeah, but don’t forget we built that library!”
So many people helped us make this happen, it’s hard to start naming them but for sure we need to thank a few publicly. You stood by us through this whole nutty project.
Andrew Tuck and his family from Vancouver Canada.
Gina O’Hara and a coalition of friends from Austin, Texas.
Kristina Johnson, David Franke and Sharon Miro from LA who did a massive drive for books, toys and games and then hauled it all over here.
Mary Obermite and friends from all over who would not stop with the books!!
Our food partner, Eyes-Open who provided the celebration lunch for the village.
Arjan Moro who gave us a very sweet deal on the beautiful furniture.