Last year at this time, we announced our expected achievements for 2016, and we are pleased to say that all these expectations have been met. Well, one of our college graduates is actually taking an additional year to complete a research project in her major of International Relations, but two others have now graduated from National University of Management, two more have finished high school and entered the work force, four are currently enrolled in university programs, and the youngest has just passed her 9th grade national examination, qualifying her to proceed on to Grade 10.
So where does that leave us? Do we now just sit back and relax?
No! Not at all. There is still much to do. Certainly, money is needed to make Cambodia Scholars Program work, but it also needs wise guidance of youth to help steer them through the unaccustomed world into which they are entering. We do that in person when we travel to Cambodia, but also now, more and more, by Skype and email, as global electronic communication improves.
Besides, things are precarious in Cambodia. These two photos say it all! And yes, that is a truck full of raw eggs.
Sreyneang and Vicheka are now both in university, and both have a passion for literacy.
We have been able to arrange internships for both of them at Sipar Publishing, a company dedicated to publishing children’s literature in the native Khmer language. Sreyneang is shown here with Ms. Socheata, Sipar's Publishing Program Manager.
Chenda continues her studies at Royal University of Law and Economics, while her sister, Srey Mom, now works at a big restaurant, and has become rather important for the owner due to her ability to speak English. So hooray for Srey Mom’s years at Seametrey School, and her years of small group English instruction with our own teacher San To.
Meanwhile, Sophea has zipped through her English prep courses at Pannasastra University, and is now enrolled in her first year of actual course work, trying to decide what course of study to adopt.
Srey Pov, who is finishing her degree in International Relations this year at Pannasastra University, gets an A+ for thoughtfulness from us. We were last in Cambodia in mid-June, and somehow she was aware of that Hallmark Card created holiday, Father’s Day, and showed up at our door with a cake for Elia to celebrate. Amazing!
She also accompanied Halimah to a training session that Halimah did for attorneys and law students sponsored by Standford’s Handa Center for Human Rights and International Justice. Srey Pov had enough poise and confidence to fit right in and enjoy herself.
Meanwhile, our first university graduates, Serey and Piset, have “flown the coop.” Except that we have made clear to them that while their financial support from us is finished, our moral support never will be, and we look forward to following their lives, and offering encouragement and possible advice, if needed.
Piset’s big dream is to own and operate his own tourist guest house. He has the academic degree now, but has gotten a job as a cook in a Khmer-Korean restaurant to learn the nitty-gritty of food preparation, so that he will know that aspect of the business when he finally opens his own guest house.
Serey is moving up to the tourist-heavy area around Angkor Wat (far north of Phnom Penh), and will live with a relative while she gets established in a job in the tourist industry.
Finally, what about Elia & Halimah? What direction are they headed? We have met many fine people while working in Cambodia. Opportunities present themselves all the time to support educational efforts, whether at Seametrey School, Sipar Publishing, or the amazing library run by our friend, Mr. Ly An, in the poor village of Andong, just outside of Phnom Penh. As our long running residential scholarship program matures, we will focus more on supporting other existing educational projects in Cambodia. And we still have several years to go to fully keep our promises to all the wonderful youth in our existing program. We look forward to that.