Volunteering

Teaching English to Buddhist Monks in Cambodia

Contribute to the education of the Buddhist monks while gaining hands-on teaching experience.

GVI Hub: a home-from-home
Durations: 1 - 12 weeks

Program information

Visit Siem Reap, a city in northern Cambodia, and teach English to Buddhist monks and children from the local community. Spend mornings working to improve the English of local Buddhist monks and the evening teaching children English to improve their opportunity of higher education and skilled employment in later life. You’ll contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education.

More locations, more options, more impact

Get up to 15% off when you book before 29 February
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Travel flexibility. Transfer for free up to 45 days before travel. Because life happens. Terms and conditions apply.
Overview
Dates & Prices
Itinerary
What's Included
Life On Base
Experiences
New
Free time
Cultural Immersion
Speak to alumni
Parent Info
Arrivals
Flights
Your Impact
Our Ethics
Program ethics
Qualifications & Training Options
Support & Safety

Program overview

Experience first-hand Cambodia’s rich culture and famed temples and monuments, while assisting us in working towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Join us in teaching English to Buddhist monks and various members of the Siem Reap community. You’ll gain valuable life skills and hands-on teaching experience to improve your employability. Typically volunteers will have the opportunity to teach for an hour and a half each morning to Buddhist monks and then return to the pagoda in the evening to assist the monks run classes in their Community Learning Centre.

In the city of Siem Reap we have joined efforts with local partner organisations to assess the needs within the community before setting up any of our projects. The core of our programs is aimed at sustainably enhancing the educational facilities and English literacy levels of the community. Through working with a diverse range of students, participants gain an insight into the education system in Cambodia, and GVI’s goal to increase access to quality education.

Highlights

Work with Buddhist monks

This is a rare privilege to work with Buddhist monks, providing English literacy lessons. You might also work with children from local families.

Find joy in Cambodia

Experience the electric atmosphere, vibrant streets and historic sights of Cambodia’s cultural heart: Siem Reap, the gateway to Angkor Wat.

Get immersed in the community

Don’t just travel like a tourist. Become part of the local community and culture to experience a unique way of living – authentically.

Contribute to enduring impact

Support and empower ongoing community development projects on the ground that are led by inspiring local NGOs.

Join locally-led initiatives

Partner with social impact projects that are owned and led by local organisations who guide initiatives according to community priorities.

Use your skills for good

Your unique expertise, skills and interests are matched to relevant community projects that address specific challenges.

Make friends for life

Share meaningful experiences with like-minded, passionate changemakers from all over the globe.

Enjoy a hassle-free, safe trip

With expert local staff, excellent reviews and 24/7 support at every step – you can relax and enjoy the experience stress-free.

Activities

Some of the example typical activities you could participate in on this program.

Sustainable development

Receive comprehensive training on child protection, safety protocols, the ethics of working in a local context and human empowerment principles.

Teach English

Teach conversational English to Buddhist monks, children from local villages and young adults hoping to better their employment opportunities.

Professional development

Get crucial career-building exposure working and communicating within a diverse team and specific local context.

Personal development

Develop self-awareness, leadership, resilience and confidence, with support and advice from experienced GVI staff members.

Pursue individual passions

Use your spare time during the week to self-reflect, raise awareness on community issues, or fundraise for a local project.

Free time

In your free time, visit national parks and floating markets, hike to waterfalls, take part in cooking or pottery classes, and see what other adventures await in the bustling and beautiful streets of Siem Reap.

Skills

  • Classroom management
  • Community empowerment
  • Cross-cultural communication
  • Social issues
  • Student engagement
  • Teaching English as a second language

Partners

Some of the partners we work with on base.

Boeng Snay Pagoda
BSDA

Program details

Dates and prices

Select a start date:

Your year. Your journey.

More locations, more options, more impact with up to 15% off on selected programs.

Special offer valid only until 29 February.
Payment plans. Flexible payment plans allow you to pay in instalments.

What happens next?

Once you apply, a personal Enrollment Manager will be assigned to walk you through the rest of the process.

Itinerary

The following itinerary is an example of the activities and project work that participants might get involved in on this program. More specific details of the program are finalised several months before each start date.

07:00

Start your day with breakfast with the team – either Khmer or Western style.

08:00

Project work in collaboration with local partners, with a focus on teaching English to monks and supporting English education in schools.

12:00

Group lunch at the guesthouse's eatery, an opportunity for reflection and sharing experiences after morning activities.

14:00

Midday planning: Organise evening sessions or next day's activities. Ideal time for working on extension projects like internships.

16:00

Project work: Assist monks in teaching English, run an afterschool club for children, support local women's empowerment organisation.

18:00

As a group, we come together to enjoy a delicious meal at one of the many fine local restaurants in the area.

19:00

Free time to unwind, socialise, play games or study. As night falls, explore vibrant Siem Reap for a taste of Cambodia's culture.

What’s included?

What's included
General
Food
Safe and basic accommodation (usually shared)
Airport pick up (unless stated)
All project equipment
24-hour in-country support from local staff
24-hour emergency desk
GVI Experiences
Activities
Sustainable project work
Data collection and research
Pre-program training
Pre-departure webinar
Pre-departure training (online)
University of Richmond endorsed specialisation course
Welcome training
GVI welcome presentation
Health & safety
Local culture & environment
UN SDGs
Impact & ethics
Child protection
Certificates
Program certificate
University certificate – specialisation (University of Richmond)
What's excluded
Not included
Flights
International and domestic airport taxes
Medical and travel insurance
Visa costs
Police or background check
Personal items and toiletries
Additional drinks and gratuities

Life On Base

Welcome to our community hub in Siem Reap, located in the centre of the city. Siem Reap is a popular destination for international visitors due to its exciting blend of old and new world experiences – from restaurants and shopping to vibrant markets, iconic temples and ancient architecture. Siem Reap is filled with cultural wonders and is known as the gateway to Angkor Wat, which forms part of the Angkor Archaeological Park, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.

Accommodation

When you volunteer in Cambodia, you’ll stay at a guesthouse in the city centre, allowing you easy access to all that the city has to offer. Stand...

Transportation

GVI will provide you with an airport pick-up from Siem Reap International Airport (REP) on your program start date if you arrange this with our o...

Communication

You will have access to long distance communications whilst on the program, but make sure friends and family know how often they can expect to he...

Meals

Both Western and Khmer food is available at local restaurants that ...

Climate

Siem Reap has a tropical climate with a dry and wet season. Siem Reap enjoys warm, balmy weather mostly year round, perfect for an evening stroll...

Medical facilities

Medical facilities are located close to the guesthouse where you will be staying and there are many pharmacies in Siem Reap, so over-the-counter ...

Culturally appropriate dress and behaviour

Whilst teaching, you will be required to wear conservative clothing. This is in respect for the local culture, where men and women should keep th...

GVI experiences included in your program, at no extra cost.

Offered once a month, expand your adventure with GVI Experiences. These are just some of the activities offered on your program!

We want you to make the most of the chance to live in – and contribute towards –  the most diverse and unique wildernesses and communities on earth. Introducing GVI Experiences – immersive adventure, cultural and wellness activities exclusive to GVI that have been specially designed in collaboration with our local partners to support and stimulate sustainable economic development.

Enhance your impact. Expand your adventure. Explore your world.

Learn to cook traditional Cambodian dishes
Taste Cambodia
Visit the Lotus Textile Farm by tuk-tuk
A guided tour
Join a blessing ceremony with monks
Balance your path
Watch Phare, Cambodia's internationally renowned circus
Theatre, music, dance
Visit one of Siem Reap's floating villages
Village on water
Attend a pottery class
Create Cambodian ceramics
Learn how HeroRATs detect landmines
Heroes
Experience a traditional massage treatment
Ancient healing techniques

Free time

Joining a program not only allows you to collaborate with local communities, but also offers plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding areas or travel further afield over weekends to see what other parts of the region have to offer.

Field staff are a great source of advice, and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. Many decide to travel before or after their experience (subject to immigration restrictions), solidifying the lifetime friendships established on the program. Please note that the below suggestions are not included in the program fee, and are for you to organise at your own expense.

Weekend Trips

Phare the Cambodian circus

A must-see show, performers use theatre, music, dance and modern ci...

Senteurs d’Angkor Botanic Garden

Visit the local crafters who use sustainable locally-sourced natural resources that reflect Cambodia’s heritage to create products that delight t...

Angkor Wat

Explore the rich history and culture of Cambodia by visiting the sprawling Angkor Archaeological Park. It spans approximately 400 square kilometres, which includes myriad temple...

Angkor Silk Farm

Angkor Silk Farm is just outside Siem Reap and produces some of the best clothing, accessories and interior-design products in the country...

Siem Reap

Siem Reap is the perfect base from which to experience the wonders that Cambodia has to offer. You can choose to spend your weekends visiting national parks, the floating market...

Further Travels

Phnom Penh

About 5 hours away, in the capital city of Phnom Penh, you can explore the beautiful Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda. You can also visit the bustling riverside promenade, home to...

Kampot

Kampot is a city that you could visit if you plan to travel before or after your program as it’s situated about 8 hours away. It’s known for its colonial architecture, pepper pl...

Battambag

Battambang is about 3 hours away. Take a cycle around the city centre and then along the last stretches of the bamboo railroad. Explore the hilltop temple complexes and the stun...

Kratie Province

The rare freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins can be found in the Mekong River, just north of Kratie, which is about

Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City at Vietnam’s border is a 12-hour bus ride or a short flight from Siem Reap. Here you can dive deeper into your South-East Asia a...

Cambodia’s southern islands

Pay a visit to some of Asia’s most stunning beaches on these untouched islands, where you can enjoy pristine coastlines away from the hustl...

Cultural Immersion

Engaging intimately with a new context teaches global awareness, adaptability and critical thinking – skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and will also be one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many different activities that you can get involved in during your free time, or before and after your program.

On our community programs, the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore topics like local cuisine and religion, or how sustainable development challenges are affecting local contexts.

Languages

Khmer is the official language of Cambodia and is spoken by about 90% of the population. Sanskrit and Pali have significantly influenced the Khme...

Local handicrafts

Cambodia has a thriving tourist souvenir industry that produces many locally handmade items such as a traditional scarf called a Krama, ceramic, lacquer, and wood carved crafts,...

Cooking and dancing

The national dish of Cambodia is Amok, which is a combination of fresh river fish, coconut cream, ginger, ...

Festivals

The Angkor Festival which takes place in Siem Reap is one of Cambodia’s most popular annual events, often attended by the King of Cambodia himself. The festival draws perf...

Spirituality and religion

The official religion of the Kingdom of Cambodia is Theravada Buddhism, which is practised by the majority of the population who visit monastery temples found throughout the cou...

Speak to alumni

If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.

We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.

Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.

Get a first-hand perspective

Meet us

Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Heritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.

We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.

GVI is a proud member of the Gap Year Association.

Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’

Parent Info Pack

Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:

Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy and high participant ratios.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.

Arrivals

When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.

As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. In most locations, we also set up a Whatsapp group to help with managing airport arrivals.

We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile.

This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.

Your Impact

All of our programs have short-, mid- and long-term objectives that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Prior to your arrival on base, you will be educated about the UN SDGs. Then once you arrive on base, you’ll learn about the specific goals we have in this particular location, our various objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to be an active global citizen after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

In Cambodia, we work in collaboration with our local partners on various community development and educational initiatives, where we aim to support their existing endeavours. Providing the community with English education enables students to access a broader range of employment opportunities. In Siem Reap, if you’re able to speak English, you have a much better chance of gaining employment in the tourism sector. Working in this sector usually means that community members have the opportunity to be promoted, earn a higher income, and improve their economic status, which is what many local residents aspire to do.

Our initiatives not only allow us to offer support to the community and our local partners, but also to address many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 1: No Poverty, Goal 3: Good Health & Well-being, Goal 4: Quality Education, Goal 5: Gender Equality, Goal 8: Decent Work & Economic Growth, Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities, Goal 12: Responsible Consumption & Production and Goal 17: Partnership for the Goals.

Project objectives

GVI Siem Reap long-term objectives: 

1. To provide English education to the local community of Siem Reap, which will improve their employment and financial prospects.

2. To strengthen bonds with our current partners and develop new partnerships with local organisations in order to broaden our scope and the number of communities that we work within.

3. To empower local women and girls through education and training, and to raise awareness on gender equality in the local community.

4. To improve awareness around health and well-being, and provide basic tools and knowledge for maintaining hygiene and the prevention of NTD (neglected tropical diseases). Not currently.

5. To improve awareness and understanding of important environmental issues, and increase community participation in efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle waste.

Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.

 

We want to constantly develop our own understanding of ethical best practice. In so doing, we aim to provide an exemplary industry standard for other education institutions, international development organisations, and social enterprises. Our Badge of Ethics stands for the drive to always do good, better. Find out more, click on the Badge below.

Our 10 ethical commitments

01

Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.

02

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.

03

Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.

04

Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.

05

Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.

06

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that every participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.

07

Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.

08

Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conducted, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.

09

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.

10

Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.

Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics. GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.

However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.

Program ethics

No entertainment-based activities

We don’t support the use of wild animals for entertainment purposes. This includes riding animals, having them perform tricks, feeding or bathing them or getting close to them to take photos

No orphaned animal sanctuaries

We don’t encourage, support or allow the rearing of “orphaned” wild baby animals kept at a “sanctuary”. The conservation value of these types of programs is negligent and would only ethically be used in extremely rare cases

Guidelines for touching or movement restriction

When wild animals are restricted for conservation purposes we follow the guidelines of Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA), approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

Animal welfare guidelines

We ensure that the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare are followed. These include the freedom to express normal behaviour and freedom from distress, discomfort, hunger, thirst, fear, pain, injury or disease.

Local community empowerment

We ensure that conservation efforts are also always locally led, that community needs are front-and centre of any conservation effort and that our participants, projects and partners work to increase local community engagement in local conservation efforts.

Learn more
No veterinary programs

We don’t offer any veterinary programs or animal rescue and rehabilitation programs. We don’t allow participants to do any work they would not be able to do in their home country.

Learn more
No orphanage programs

We don’t support or allow participants to work in institutional residential care facilities, also known as orphanages. We partner with ReThink Orphanages and Freedom United.

Learn more
Child and vulnerable adult protection policy

Our Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy requires all our staff and participants to complete a criminal background check and to learn why you shouldn’t reveal a child’s identifying factors in photographs. We support the ChildSafe Movement.

Learn more
No medical volunteering

We don’t offer any programs where our participants engage in medical treatment. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country. Our participants only assist with public health programs.

Learn more
No disability support programs

We don’t offer any programs where our participants work directly with people with disabilities. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country.

Learn more

Training

A GVI program is an investment in your career. No matter which you choose, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise and earning qualifications in many cases. Most of our staff are, in fact, GVI Alumni, and we have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their own personal dream jobs. Each program includes introductory workshops, ongoing presentations, as well as on-the-ground professional support provided by our very own trained staff members. In addition, our training programs are critical for helping us to ensure the long-term impact of our sustainable development projects around the world.

Orientation: Travelling Responsibly and Ethically

Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.

Orientation: UN Sustainable Development Goals

Introduction to the history and evolution of sustainable development, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and how these related to your project work.

Orientation: Further Opportunities for Impact

Learn about our country locations and further opportunities available to you during or after your program.

Certificates & qualifications

GVI Online Community Development course (optional)

In this course, you’ll explore the most common pitfalls of community development initiatives so that you can avoid them. You’ll also learn how to carry out community development work effectively and ethically and how local context impacts program development. After successfully completing the course, which you have the option of doing prior to your in-country program, you’ll receive a certificate from the University of Richmond.

This online course, valued at £295, is included in all volunteering programs. Full course details can be found here.

Support & Safety

We won’t sugarcoat it — traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.

Safety

View support and safety protocols

Support

View risk mitigation

Health and safety case studies

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GVI's commitment to safety and security

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How GVI remains prepared for natural disasters

The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes ...

How GVI manages participants expectations

Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations a...

Included in your program, at no extra cost.

Make the most of our unique programs with these exclusively curated local adventure and wellness experiences.

Offered once a month, expand your adventure with GVI Experiences. These are just some of the activities offered on your program!
Learn to cook traditional Cambodian dishes
Visit the Lotus Textile Farm by tuk-tuk
Join a blessing ceremony with monks
Watch Phare, Cambodia's internationally renowned circus
Visit one of Siem Reap's floating villages
Attend a pottery class
Learn how HeroRATs detect landmines
Experience a traditional massage treatment