By Sally Han
Yesterday was an exciting day for not only us but also for the children of a small village nearby Life International School. It was Graduation Day! The Theology students of Life College taught the children of that small village for five weeks during their summer break, teaching them English, the Bible, crafts, and more! It took a BUMPY dirt road to get to the village (which could wake anyone up from a nap!), but it was worth it as it led us to a small beautiful white church in the middle of a small village. It was beautifully decorated with balloons and streamers and colorful wall decorations. Later we found out that the Theology students came at 6:00 in the morning to hang up all the decorations and prepare for the graduation ceremony.
The graduating students were already there, wearing matching blue shirts and black pants and skirts. The students ranged from what seemed like kindergarteners to fifth graders. With a podium on stage and the students sitting down in rows and a projector screen, it reminded me of our graduation ceremonies back at home.
The students’ teachers wore matching yellow shirts and their faces were just as bright and happy as the students. I was touched by how loving the teachers were to their students. They smiled and laughed and greeted the parents in, and I want to guess it was because they were so proud of the students.
As the graduation ceremony progressed, I realized that even in a different country halfway across the world, the celebration of learning is all the same. The parents are happy because their children were able to receive some education. This small village was built around a factory for the factory workers to live. But they are not able to send their children to school, maybe for reasons of needing them at home to watch their younger siblings or maybe because they cannot afford to send their children.
So how joyous this day was for the students, parents, and the teachers! There was a celebratory video made to recap the five weeks of learning and the children laughed and smiled brightly as they saw themselves on the screen.
Then Pastor Wonchul Park gave a short sermon for the students and the parents. Sadly, when asked what their dreams are, many Cambodians say it is to become rich. Pastor Park preached that Jesus is our one, true Joy. We do not need money to be happy; we only need Jesus. He continued with the story of Zacchaeus. Due to his short height it seemed like there was no way for him to see Jesus. But God provided a way by a tree. Zacchaeus was able to see Jesus by climbing the tree. Pastor Park said to the students, "Now, you are the tree for others to see Jesus." God always provides for us; everything we need. That is why Jesus is our true Joy and we lack nothing in Him.
Then the graduation ceremony progressed with performances by the teachers and then the students. And then finally, it was time to award the students for all their hard work! There were certificates and prizes for best student, best attendance, and more!
All in all, it was quite a morning! I was happy to see these students receive an education, and I was grateful that the teachers were praising their achievements. I felt hopeful that maybe one day soon all of Cambodia could go forward in learning and value it. "Get wisdom, get understanding, do not forget my words or turn away from them." - Proverbs 4:5