Angkor Tree School, a dream comes true!

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Tell me..when was the last time you did something without expecting anything in return? I am talking about doing something for someone that you don’t know…tell me, when was it?

If I tell you that doing this, is one of the most fullfilling things you can ever done in your life, what will you do? Now, I bet you’re curious. But first you need to stop complaining about your life, stop being a lazy person that comes up with every excuse in the book as to why your life is not changing…Step up…Save money, make a plan, go out, explore a different country and help people, touch their lives, make a difference…The difference in reality will hit you so bad that you can’t keep having the luxury of spending your time complaning; instead you’re gonna become an action person…Change your mind and it will change your life…

There is nothing powerful than a changed mind and I am going to show you an eye-opening experience that will lead you to change your life for good and change others’ lives at the same time…I’m taking you to a school in Cambodia…Angkor Tree School, the school of a hero that was built against all kinds of difficulties and is full of dreamers, big hearts…

In this article you’ll discover:

  • How I found Angkor Tree School
  • On the way to Angkor Tree School
  • Angkor Tree School, The school of dreamers
  • The story of Sokhom, the hero of the kids and the founder of the school
  • The tooth brushing festival
  • The class starts
  • The movie, ice cream and bread day
  • My birthday at Angkor Tree School
  • Become  a hero for the kids at Angkor Tree School

Let’s get started…


I was in Shanghai, planning my trip and searching on the internet to find a school in Cambodia where I could use my skills and make a difference. I was looking for a school that really needed my support rather than doing volunteer-tourism, which is not wrong, but I wanted to help someone with his/her dream rather than a corporation.


 When you’re out there, actively searching and looking for what you want, the universe will help you! Just keep looking for it!


After many nights, I couldn’t find the type of school that I wanted, till one night… I was on the instagram and saw a guy’s pictures…Pictures of kids that were studying, playing together and I fell in love with those pictures…They were so beautiful and authentic that I got in touch with this guy asking for the name, address of the school.

I love how you can reach the information that fast. I was able to reach the founder of the school and after couple of emails back and forth, the schedule in Siem Reap was already decided.

On the way to the school

The second morning in Cambodia, Borey, who is more than a tuk tuk driver, he was my right arm with all his amazing skills, came and picked me up from my hostel and we were on our way to the school…You have no idea how excited and happy I was…


In my backpack, I had the presents of my friends to be given to the kids in the school. An amazing skateboard, coloring pencils, coloring books, English reading books, simple toys etc…

I was keep thinking hope they liked it and hope I could make a difference in their lives along the way…

Life is not easy for locals in Cambodia…Everything I saw along the way, was breaking my heart but also putting me into the right mindset…

Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world. – Gustave Flaubert


I was taking pictures at the back of the tuktuk and suddenly I saw the sign of Angkor Tree School …I was surrounded with these mixed feelings of curiosity, excitement, happiness for being able to reach that place finally, flying from Shanghai to Cambodia to visit this small, tiny school..


When we arrived, the kids were all looking at me, as soon as I got the camera out between us, the energy and passion that I felt around me became bigger & stronger…I was at the school of hope, dreams, love, kindness, appreciation, knowledge…You’ll see what I mean in the following lines…


Angkor Tree School is a free school where foreign volunteers are welcome to teach English and Japanese. Kids from rural villages come to Angkor Tree School before or after their public school to learn a foreign language. There are only 3 classrooms(the time I visited there were 2, and the other one was being built) and it is made of wood, all wood…and Siem Reap is the city of temples where Angkor Wat is located, that’s why it is called Angkor Tree School.

This school is one of the places that you’ll feel alive…You’ll feel so alive, it is so powerful that it will make you turn into a hero for those dreamers that have big hearts than you can ever imagine.

Before class starts, flip-flops started to pile up in front of the classes. Respect is one of the important traits you can see in every kid in this school.

Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.-Nelson Mandela

Angkor Tree School is located in Trang Village, even though it is very close to the famous temples of Angkor Wat, as well as the touristy Pub street and Old Market areas, the village is located in one of the many slum areas in Siem Reap. Kids in Trang Village don’t have a proper education and are unable to speak English. Living conditions are very though, job opportunities are limited and food is not enough. Many men were killed while serving in the army, and from the rest, most adults died from disease. Most children are orphans and in-need. I was running out of words cause I was filled with emotions till my throat that was making it hard to speak…


IMG_7294Sokhom, is the founder of Angkor Tree School. This school is a dream came true. For the kids, he is a hero…but like every hero, he has been his own light…

He has gone through many struggles in his life…When he was a kid, his family was separated during the genocide of the Khmer Rouge. His aunts, uncles and his younger brother were killed. Sokhom and his grandfather escaped from Khmer soldiers and ran to the woods, they were spending the nights in the deep holes deep in the woods…Can you imagine how you would feel if you were him? Fortunately, Sokhom and his parents survived…

Through the help of his friends and tourists, Sokhom learned to speak English and Japanese, and he became a public school teacher. He was already going beyond the limits considering the fact that back in those times, when most of the educated population was killed, going to school, investing in yourself was a huge risk to your life, but Sokhom made this courageous decision to do more to educate the children in his community.

Sokhom’s dream became true after all the hardwork, countless days and nights spent to build  a school in his village where there was no school. After getting married and having a baby, he had more responsibilities! Sokhom took on weekend and night teaching jobs to support his new school as well as his wife and new born son. With hard work, he was able to rent a small land and purchased the necessary materials to build his school, Angkor Tree school in Trang Village.

 Use the struggles in your life as fuel to keep the fire inside of you stronger than the fire outside..


Kids were getting ready to start the class, but there was one ritual left to complete, they do it everyday before class starts..Brushing their teeth…On each toothbrush, the kids’ names are written and they keep it in a box so they never get lost…


Sokhom told me that these kids didn’t have tooth brushes and toothpastes at home and he was trying to build a habit by making it as a fun activity…


Some of the kids were competing with each other, jumping, singing, they were playing “show and tell”…wouldn’t you like it more if you can turn brushing your teeth into that much fun? Even though they were pumping the water from the ground, they were enjoying every minute of it…When a simple action is fun, it is easier for it to become a habit…That’s the happy faces we all wanna see…



In Turkey we play a little game to keep the kids quite: “1,2,3 Tıp!”, “Tıp” stands for “to be quiet”. The kids loved it hahaha. At Angkor Tree School, every student stands up to welcome the teacher and give their appreciation for the teacher’s time because they all know that the teachers who are coming to this school are volunteers. When I was standing in front of the white board and seeing this, I was amazed…


There are 3 levels in one class and they have classes at the same time. When I was telling my mom about this, she told me that they were having the same system back in their villages for the primary school simply because not having enough space and resources.

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The first day, I wrote my name on the board as it can be hard to pronounce for some kids. Later on when I was checking their notebooks, seeing my name written on this lovely girl’s notebook made me so happy.


Kids doing group study, absolutely not an easy thing to do but here everyone helps each other and the one who is naughty ends up in front of the white board but he was still happy. I haven’t seen a magical environment like that before…It is inspiring…



Every Friday, Sokhom buys a new English movie with Khmer subtitles, ice creams and some bread…Of course, kids love it, and who wouldn’t, right?


That day, kids were watching “Avatar” for the first time and I was eating ice-cream and bread together for the first time!



Starting from 2014, I celebrate my birthdays in a different country with doing something different. Last year, me and 2 couples went on an amazing experience to take care of the elephants who were rescued from the circuses. We washed them in the lake, well they washed us actually haha, learned about their psychology and communication langugaes. It was amazing…

This year I got a birthday cake and celebrated with the lovely kids at Angkor Tree School..It was the first time they blew candles…



“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou”



I had started Backpacking for a Good Cause Campaign in Shanghai to help my friends contribute in the idea as well, even though they couldn’t be there with me physically, I wanted to increase the awareness and made them feel good too. They gave me a beautiful skateboard, coloring books, colored pencils, English books etc..It was so worth it, seeing the kids enjoying the presents, hearing their laughs and running after the skateboard…

Just look at the kid’s eyes who is holding the skateboard in the picture below..That’s what I am talking about…It is absolutely amazing to be able help people that you don’t know and see the light in their eyes… I wanna ask you why don’t you start doing something different in your birthdays?


Playing with the kids in the garden, teaching them how to skate…We were having an amazing time together…


Based on the talk we had with Sokhom and what I had seen, brought me to this stationery store to get the necessary stuff that the school needed.



I will always remember the experiences, the hugs, big smiles, friendships, selfies and pictures that were taken at Angkor Tree School, these are some of the best presents you can ever have in your life… Volunteering at Angkor Tree School is priceless…

Collect moments, not things!



It was hard to fit all the experiences into a short video but here is a 7 minute part from the unqiue moments…



As an individual, I tried my best to help and make a difference in the kid’s lives, tried to give them an experience that they can remember forever, volunteered, wrote about my experience so that I can reach many beautiful hearts like yours…


Among many, there is a bigger obstacle in the horizon…The land that Angkor Tree School was built on can be taken away and this means that there would be no school, no light…If you think like “someone else will help anyway”, the world will become a darker place cause you simply give up your own power… We will not let this happen!

Some people came up to me saying “hey Evrim! I don’t have a purpose, I don’t know what to do with my life!”… if you’re one of those, let me ask you something: If you went through your life full of pain, full of tears and at the end of your life you actually saved somebody’s life, is your life worth living? For sure, it is! As long as you’re still here, you can make the move to save someone else’s life


If you like to give financial support or/and volunteer, please get in touch with Sokhom through his email address and the links below:

An important notice, in order to be a volunteer, having a teaching degree is essential, but if you say “I am fluent in English or Japanese and I am quite good at teaching techniques, why do I let not having the certificate to stop me making a difference?”, absolutely we agree, go for it and talk with Sokhom in detail.

The world needs more love and hope, more over it needs more action-people like you and me.

You can find the other pictures that were taken at Angkor Tree School in our instagram account, folow us to get inspired.

Sharing is caring! Please share this article so that we can reach more people and be a miracle for these lovely kids…

See you in the next experience!

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