Even before the arrival of Danny and Pam Spitler, for their first visit since 2011 to the school they helped found with Chea Sarin, the school was filling up with parents and villagers as well as children from the afternoon session. Many of the children - some in their bright football kit after a successful match - were lining the approach road to the school while those children not outside the gates were sitting patiently (well, fairly ...) at their desks in the compound.
Curious villagers also crowded round the entrance to watch the spectacle of the arrival of the couple, preceded by a beaming and very proud Sarin.
Once everyone was inside the school compound and and the Commune Chief had arrived the speeches began, most of them being translated for us by Sarin and our English teachers. Can't say we got every word - but we certainly caught the gist. The highlight of the ceremony was however - and inevitably - the performances from the school Dance Troupe who demonstrated the beauty, poise and grace of traditional Khmer Dance. This was certainly true of the girls who performed first and maintained the expressionless faces required by this style of dance with impeccable discipline. The boys, when they joined in, certainly attempted the same level of sophisticated poise as the girls, but their broad grins showed that they felt much like young boys the world over when dancing in public with girls. Anyway - everyone thoroughly enjoyed the routines, and the girls failed delightfully to maintain their non-smiling faces when faced with the determined attempts of the boys to remember all their steps.
The school children always thoroughly enjoy watching the dancing - as you can see from these photos.
A special mention must also go to the sound system, sitting on the trailer of a local 'tractor'. At about half the size of the system you might find at a local wedding, this one was still powerful enough to entertain most of the village of Ang Chagn for the morning.
After the formal ceremonies and dancing came a question and answer session between the parents of children in Spitler and Kurata school and Sarin and Danny. As Jim later pointed out, apart from the setting and climate, this could have been a Q & A session from any parent teacher evening in the US or UK. The same concerns were there: safety of children getting to school on uneven tracks; the desire for more time to be spent teaching English; worries over children being sent home if a teacher was absent and so on. But also plenty of praise from very vocal and articulate parents who are pleased with the schools and proud of their children's' achievements.
Some final images from the afternoon
And just to remind us where we are - here's a final photograph taken, not in the school, but on the main road home in Siem Reap: three guys on a moto carrying a large sheet of glass: We held our breath!