U.S. Peace Corps starts first Cambodian mission

KAMPONG SIEM, Cambodia Mon Feb 5, 2007 10:32am EST

1 of 4. American teachers arrive at Phnom Penh international airport February 2, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Chor Sokunthea

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KAMPONG SIEM, Cambodia (Reuters) - The U.S. Peace Corps has started its first mission to Cambodia, sending volunteers to teach English in the war-scarred southeast Asian nation still recovering from the Khmer Rouge "Killing Fields".

An advance group of 30 volunteers from San Francisco got their first taste of the local way of life shortly after arrival with a blessing by a Buddhist monk.

They plan to teach secondary school children English, which is seen as a vital means to getting job in an impoverished country that now attracts more than one million foreign visitors a year.

"English is becoming more important for Cambodia because the country is opening up to tourism," said volunteer Nathalie Galiotto, at the start of a nine week stint with a Cambodian family in the eastern province of Kampong Cham.

"More people are coming to the country now and they use English to communicate with tourists."

Cambodia receives $600 million a year in aid, although 36 percent of its 13 million people continue to live on $1 a day or less.

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