Here at PEPY, we know that things are going well when our staff are too motivated to take vacation. On the first day of the Khmer New Year holiday, normally a time of rest and relaxation, PEPY held two trainings in Chanleas Dai, with enough laughter and learning that it seemed like a normal school day.
As part of our Child-to-Child Program, over 30 Child Club leaders from 12 villages joined PEPY staff for a 5-day life skills training, focusing on decision-making, self-esteem, and communication.
Using active learning methods developed by Child-to-Child program staff, these trainings focused on trust-building games, role playing, tools for self-expression and conflict management, as well as how to understand the impacts of our decisions. Activities ranged from being blindfolded and led around the community, to debating value statements such as “girls don’t need to go to school past grade 6”, to drawing life shields with future goals.
After facilitating the training with the students, PEPY Country Manager Vanna Aline Meas said, “At first I was surprised how shy students were but progressively they participated more and more in the activities we facilitated.”
The training related to life skills, such as basic decision-making, communication, relationship building, and self-confidence. As one of the activities, students were asked to brainstorm solutions for ways to reduce conflict between family members and make better decisions in their daily lives, thereby reducing the risk of harm to themselves. For example, when they are riding their bicycles in the rainy season, cutting wood at home or carrying water in large containers for their family, they thought about what they could do to reduce the risk of danger to themselves.
Aline noted how surprised she was at the intelligence and creativity behind the answers the students gave. “After this training, students seemed more mature, confident, and able to meet the challenges they will see in their lives. They also seemed excited about working together to solve problems in the future.”
After completing the training, students were even excited to learn more. They asked PEPY to conduct additional educational training about how they can promote good health in their communities. We are so impressed at the passion these students show for both learning and for improving the livelihoods of their communities.
Over the holiday we were also lucky to have Fulbright scholar Dr. Wayne Wright, an accomplished teacher and trainer, offer literacy training for our government teachers. Ten teachers attended a workshop focused on how to use books in the classroom to promote literacy and reading comprehension goals.
Riem Noun, a first grade government teacher and one of PEPY’s part-time literacy staff, was so excited that he expressed his disappointment that Khmer New Year meant that he wouldn’t get to test out the new techniques for another two weeks. “It’s hard to understand how children learn” he noted, “but I keep understanding more and more”.
It is inspiring to see so many motivated teachers, students, and staff giving up their holidays to build their own capacity and that of their communities. Many thanks to all who helped make these trainings possible.