A Cajun man who was raised along Bayou Lafourche is about to spend more than two years in Cambodia.
While there, he will teach English to native children who go to school in the developing land.
Jacob Thibodaux is heading to the Asian country in mid-July – part of a 27-month tour he will serve as part of the Peace Corps, which was established in 1961 and has been in Cambodia since 2007.
Thibodaux said he will stay with a host family throughout his stay and will learn Khmer, the country’s native language. During his time, he also will be staked with promoting peace and bringing people together – something that hasn’t always been easy in the country that’s been filled with unrest for a lot of its history.
“The recent history there has been very tumultuous,” Thibodaux said. “The Khmer Rouge, which ruled Cambodia until 1979 was responsible for the deaths of nearly two million people and savaged existing infrastructure, including education. My goal with the Peace Corps is to work with my Cambodian co-teachers in mentoring the future leaders of the country.”
Thibodaux said the experience will be unique – a challenge he’s looking forward to more with each day that passes by.
In Cambodia, Thibodaux’s title will be Secondary Education English Teacher. He will be working with Cambodian teenagers from grades 7-12, teaching each the language.
While working with Cambodian co-teachers, Thibodaux said he will be doing things to make the educational experience better and more fulfilling for the pupils under his watch.
“I must establish and lead extracurricular activities to enrich the learning opportunity for my students,” Thibodaux said.
The way Thibodaux plans to do that is through one of his passions: finance. He is a Graduate Cum Laude – BS Finance from LSU in 2012.
He hopes to use that knowledge to help the children he comes across during his time in the country.
“The Peace Corps requires a secondary job of volunteers,” Thibodaux said. “The secondary job is determined through interaction with the host community and assessing their needs. I am hoping to utilize my finance degree and experience to either meet my secondary goal or to create an after school business club or class.”
He plans to bring a little Cajun flare to his host family, as well, of course.
Thibodaux said that while in Cambodia, he has to live like the native people do.
“I will have to live and eat with a Cambodian host family,” he said. “One of the goals of the Peace Corps is community integration. And that is essentially done by living like a local.”
But another piece of his job is to give Cambodians a better understanding of America and the culture of its people. Thibodaux said he intends to show his host family and new neighbors how Louisianans live. He intends to introduce his new friends to the best parts of our state – including the delicious cuisine.
“I can’t wait to cook a good jambalaya and other Cajun dishes for my host family,” Thibodaux said with a smile.
The local leaves for his adventure on July 14.
Posted on Tue, June 28, 2016
by The Lafourche Gazette