Sreylam is one of the quiet unsung heroes at Savong’s School, serving many years as librarian. As any school librarian knows, the job involves encouragement of new students and the creation of an environment that is conducive to the full flight of young imaginations. I cannot imagine anyone better suited to the role than Leam Sreylam: she is like a child-magnet and in her presence students open themselves up.
When I first met her I was reminded at once of a teacher of mine, when I was 5 and in Canada. Mrs Cohoe was a golden presence who made us feel so welcome in her classroom. When I was almost 40 I visited Canada once more and looked Mrs Cohoe up in the phone book. I gave her a call and her now elderly voice creaked open like a door. “Ye-e-e-e-e-s?” she asked.
“You won’t remember me but my name is Duncan….” but she chipped in and completed the sentence.
“…Duncan Stuart…why your family emigrated to New Zealand in 1961. How is your mother Margaret?”
We swapped notes and it appeared that Miss Cohoe had kept tabs with legions of students. So I asked her, “How do you keep in touch with everyone?”
“Well, I don’t know about that,” she pondered, “it seems everybody keeps in touch with me.”
Sreylam is from the local community and I’m certain that even though she is very quiet and unassuming she’ll also have legions of students who grow up and forever remember her as a favourite. What a difference these wonderful individuals make in our lives.