Cambodia

“Why bully a Swot?”

 

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“Teacher, what’s a Swot?” asks a teenage student after reading an article about a young person bullied for being one.

“It’s a person who studies or works a lot,” I say, giving the British definition of the word.

The student is puzzled as is her friend sitting next to her.

“So why would they bully a Swot?” asks the friend.

“Some teenagers in Western countries, think it’s not cool to study hard,” I say.

Student and friend exchange a puzzled look: they don’t understand my answer.

“But why, teacher?”

Why, indeed?

I’ve never had a student ridiculed by another for putting effort into their study.

Never.

Instead, industry above and beyond the call of duty is often meet with cheers in my English as a Second Language classes. A cheer that carries with it a playful mock for the work done, sure. But mostly it is a cheer of appreciation.

That’s not to say that all Cambodian students work hard. They don’t.

Especially many of the boys in state schools who simply run amok.

But even to these boys, as uninterested as they are in their own education, the idea of taunting the interested ones wouldn’t occur to them.

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