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Youth of the week: Yi Srey Toch


Yi Srey Toch, 24, a volunteer Chinese teacher at a Chinese church, and breaks the all-too-common notion that one needs to attend school to learn a language.

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“You’re grateful for where water comes from once you drink it,” said Yi Srey Toch, who was once a student at her church.

“Being a volunteer teacher here, I feel delighted. I’m able to fulfill the church’s needs after they helped me when I needed it.”

Born to a family in financial crisis, Yi Srey Toch struggled to study in Phnom Penh on her own.

“I remember that when my mother got sick, we didn’t have any money to treat her illness,” she said.

“My sister was able to borrow some money from her boss. We had to repay the debt by trying to look for different jobs since then. I was so young at the time.”

Yi Srey Toch was born in Kampot province to a Khmer-Chinese family, and she could speak both languages since she was young. She was also known in her community as friendly and down-to-earth.

From the age of six, Yi Srey Toch began spending her free-time at Chinese church.

“Chinese church is where I could learn Chinese language,” she said.

“I have been there for years and learned many invaluable things. They have helped me grow as a person.”

As an increased number of students began enrolling to study Chinese at her church, Yi Srey Toch decided it was time to volunteer as a teacher.

She has a class of 30 students per day.

Yi Srey Toch doesn’t teach for the compliments, but for sharing with her church, self-development and the sake of doing good in the community.

“Teaching is the most effective way to gain knowledge,” she said.

“If you teach for a year, it seems like you have learnt for three years in return.”

Yi Srey Toch has been awarded to work as a full-time foreign language teacher in South Korea and looks forward to her new adventure.

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