Much like his fellow teachers, Teacher Phyrom was raised in a household that struggled to put food on the table, leaving it difficult for his parents to prioritize education.
Phyrom’s parents grew rice and watermelons; however, a particularly light rainy season could leave them with little harvest. To supplement small meals, even as children Phyrom and his siblings helped pick vegetables from the mountainous area. Phyrom also caught fish in the rivers to eat and sell.
At age 6, Phyrom began primary school, but by the second year there were no more students, so classes were cancelled. Too many children had to drop out to work. The only way to continue an education was to join a pagoda. So Phyrom became a monk for 10 years. During those years, Phyrom attended to his duties as a monk while also studying, especially English.
Phyrom won scholarship from two universities and attended both. He graduated with two diplomas; one in 2014 and another in 2015.
Phyrom had previously assisted English classes for rich children, and upon joining TASSEL was shocked at how the lives of his TASSEL students paralleled his own. When his students do not come to class one day, he visits their home to discover that they are working. He could not be angry at them, for he knows their situation all too well. "The children do not always receive love from their families. They sometimes feel very lonely, they need to be encouraged - we must give them hope,” he says. Phyrom notices changes in the behavior of many of his children: the quiet ones begin to open up and share about their issues at home, now knowing that this time it would make a difference.
When speaking of his students, Phyrom smiles warmly and with determination, “We can transfer our knowledge about kindness, we can educate them, we can give our true hearts. We must care about each other - everything starts from one single heart.”
These are excerpts from an essay that Teacher Phyrom wrote about his life:
"From the moment I joined TASSEL I felt that I was doing the right work in the right place. I can transfer my knowledge to the children and build a relationship with the community to understand more about their needs. I think I really understand how hard their lives are and how much help they need because I used to live just like them. I am very glad to be working with foreigners. They are my role models. They work so hard to help Cambodians, especially the kids and the poor. I have learnt a lot of things from my experiences seeing their good hearts and right attitudes towards Cambodians."
"I want to teach children English as long as I can because only this education can help improve lives and change the country. I cannot just live happily by myself and leave the children."