Allison Bukys

Sunday – June 7, 2015: Profile of Liger Learning Center – Part 1/2

It’s hard to describe the number of awesome things that happen at Liger on a daily basis. Hopefully, soon I will be able to share a new video from the kids that provides a snapshot of some of the projects happening at Liger, but until then I will do my best to describe what goes on at this awesome, crazy place.

Background: Liger currently only has one grade of 50 students, aged about 11-13. Essentially, Liger is a 7 year school, serving grades 6-12 as a middle and high school. The students are in their third year at Liger, making them 8th grade students. The students hail from all over the country, with 12 students living close enough to go home on a daily basis or for weekends. They were selected for Liger through a series of tests for intelligence, creativity and leadership. These kids are seriously awesome, though all very different.

2015-05-28 02.34.30programming class

Alli’s 8Th grade programming class at Liger

The Schedule: It’s somewhat hard to classify the school day, because there’s a lot of space built-in for flexibility and change. Generally though, the kids take 2 Advanced Enrichment classes (which include Advanced Reading, Robotics, and Earth Science as options), Literacy (in English), Khmer, Math, and Exploration. The Explorations are intensive project-based classes that meet for 10 hours a week for an 8-week session, and they are a major part of the curriculum that makes Liger such a unique place.

This session’s explorations: 

  • Programming – clearly the most interesting, special, and wonderful exploration.
  • Animal Guide: An exploration running for the second session in a row that will culminate with a complete book written by the kids that documents and explains the animal species native to Cambodia. Each species has a watercolor illustration done by a student and a full page description written by a student in English and translated to Khmer as well.
  • Economy Book: Similarly to Animal Guide, the Economy Book is in its second session and will result in a book being published about Cambodia’s economy fully researched and written by Liger students in English and Khmer.
  • Water Safety: Drowning is a serious problem in Cambodia as major parts of the country flood each year during rainy season. The Liger students have previously all learned to swim, and now they are learning how to spread drowning prevention information across the country and are teaching swim lessons to the community.

Liger also recently got its first 3D printer! I’m not sure that there is a specific project that this is accompanying at the moment, but given Liger’s holistic focus during projects on design through production I am confident that the printer will be well used in the future.

Liger Campus 3

Liger student housing

Liger Campus 4

Liger’s main staircase: at the top there are photos of students and staff, each paired with one of the words that embodies a quality of the Liger community – Stewardship, Integrity, Determination, Optimism, Appreciation, and Ingenuity.

 The Campus: Liger centers around one academic building that has 3 classrooms, a conference room, offices, a library, and an outdoor gathering room. Before the main building near the entry to the school, there are 4 teacher apartments, of which 3 are currently occupied. Behind the main building, there is a small pool attached to the science building, which has an awesome science classroom downstairs and two rooms known as “the innovation center” which houses workbenches and lots of parts that can be used for class projects or personal projects. Behind the innovation center are the Khmer style houses in which the kids live. They are divided into 4 houses, each with two rooms and a house mother that is responsible for her house. Up until now, the students have lived with one room of boys and one room of girls in each house, but next year the students will be segregated into two full houses of boys and two of girls, which offers the students the exciting opportunity to choose their own roommates. The girls seized upon this opportunity gratefully and quickly organized themselves into houses. The boys eventually succeeded and submitted their list shortly before the deadline at which they would be assigned randomly.

Check in shortly for Liger Part 2: The kids, the staff, and “I thought you were teaching programming but I haven’t really heard much about it.”

Learn Khmer: On Friday, programming was interrupted by an important lesson in Khmer. Apparently, while pong moan means chicken egg and pong tea means duck egg, if you just say pong it means testicles. Thanks kids, for telling me that now! (Suddenly the locals laughter makes sense.)