Having just celebrated the Christening of our newest European ship, the AmaSerena, in my home country of Germany a few weeks ago, I just came back from Southeast Asia for the debut of another new ship on the Mekong, the AmaDara. It has been 2 years since my last visit to Vietnam and Cambodia, and I have been really looking forward to my return to this beautiful and enchanting part of the world.
For those fortunate enough to visit, Southeast Asia is a place of endless wonder. Cambodia, in particular, with its fascinating and tumultuous history, beautiful temples, and the warm welcoming smiles of its people, it is easy to understand why this small country, less than half the size and population of California, draws millions of tourists a year. Indeed, tourism has increased at an amazing pace. With a third of its population working in tourism-related occupations, this has also created the need for greater access to education, specifically, the need to have fluency in the English language.
As a non-native speaker of English, I know how the ability to communicate in another language can be the key to future opportunities.
For many in the Western world, being fluent in more than one language is an ‘optional’ skill. For children in the poorest countries in the world, the ability to communicate in English can be a life-changing experience.
This is especially true for a place like Cambodia. Recognizing this need was the inspiration for our sponsorship of the Free Village English School in Seam Reap. At the school, local children acquire critical English-language lessons, and are even able to practice these skills with visiting AmaWaterways guests from all over the world. For many of our guests, this visit to the Free Village English School is a profoundly moving and happy experience, and for the children, it is such a delight to have such an appreciative audience. It is a great joy to hear the exchange between students and guests, as they navigate their way together through a conversation, knowing that with each effort made, each party is learning something valuable and authentic about each other and about themselves.
Although this school is a humble contribution to the local community in Siem Reap, I am optimistic that the children will continue to benefit for years to come. I hope to come back here soon, and encourage you to put Cambodia on the top of your list of places to see.