Last 27 January, PEPY Empowering Youth’s staff and students travelled out to Kralanh High School to attend PEPY’s Dream Management Project’s Sharing Event 2017. Our three special guest speakers – Kong Vanthat, Suon Khuen and Ung Hanty – graciously shared their time, knowledge and experience. More than 250 students from Grades 10, 11 and 12, including teachers; as well as the PEPY Empowering Youth Scholarship students, came to hear about their stories of challenges and successes which they have encountered on the road that led them to where they are today.
Kong Vanthat is Women’s Resource Center’s Executive Director, an NGO that provides women and girls in Cambodia with referral services. She is an experienced Social Worker and during the Sharing Event, she talked about her life experience, studies and work. The unforgettable part was when she shared the quote: “Don’t let life change your goals because achieving your goals can change your life.” Her message was when you have Dreams, let it come to reality and prove that you have changed your life.
Another guest speaker is Soun Kheun, AEC-Lataste’s Executive Director, he is also a part-time English lecturer at Build Bright University. AEC–Lataste is a French-Khmer non-profit organisation, specialising in the protection and development of vulnerable children in Cambodia. Kheun worked with several different organisations and has experienced various projects and jobs, all of which have had their own unique impact to his life and career. He is a kind of person who likes to take risks; he worked hard and went from English Teacher to University Lecture to Project Officer to AEC-Lataste’s Executive Director. During his presentation at the Sharing Event, Khuen focused on the theme of following your dreams and encouraged the students to be imaginative and to think out of the box. He spoke about how a student’s final grade in school does not actually represent the abilities and capabilities of an individual. Kheun added, “If you don’t get good grades in class or school, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get a good grade in life outside of school, it also doesn’t show that you can’t find a good job. It all depends on how you develop yourself.”
Our final guest speaker was Ung Hanty, who had worked with PEPY from 2011 – 2013. She’s currently Weaves of Cambodia’s Manager, Weaves of Cambodia is an NGO providing landmine victims and people with disability employment opportunities. She graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Finance and Banking from the University of South Eastasia and is currently completing pursuing her Master’s Degree in General Management. Hanty’s topic was “What should we prepare and share when we go out of the country?” Hanty’s answer? The English language. She shared with us her amazing travel experiences and the lessons it has brought her. She also encouraged everyone to look beyond Cambodia and hopefully experience and learn more about the world.
It wasn’t only Vanthat, Kheun and Hanty who shared their experiences at the event, several High School students bravely stood in front of their peers and spoke about a few important topics, such as responsibilities and how to manage them and how to deal with challenging school work. A group of students also presented a mini play about students who are not very active nor collaborative in school. The play is about the students who isolate themselves from the rest and only doing things that they are interested in, like football and hanging out with friends, ignoring and not caring about anybody else. While there were many comedic aspects in the play, the underlying message was a bit more serious: teamwork. They want to send the message about friendship, building good relationships and working together.
By promoting this culture of sharing, it creates a positive, healthy and very hopeful environment for young Cambodians who otherwise may not feel confident to talk about their dreams with their friends. The whole event was incredibly enriching for the students of Kralanh High School, the Scholarship students, as well as the PEPY Empowering Youth staff. We hope to repeat the success of the Sharing Event in the future and would like to extend our sincerest thanks to Kong Vanthat, Suon Kheun, Ung Hanty and all the students and the school officials for taking the time out in their busy schedules to come and join us in Kralanh.