(In no particular order)
In August of this year, 20 graduating grade 9 students from Chanleas Dai commune decided to start their own organization called Volunteer Community Development. Their aim is to provide English classes to members of the community, as well as facilitate ways to help improve the environment in their community. These students had studied English and Creative Learning Classes through PEPY’s supplementary programs, but they came up with this idea completely on their own. Entirely student led and run, with a bit of guidance from one of our staff members, Rith Sarakk, they were able to raise $250 in addition to continued support of $15 per month from community members and teachers. The students now teach 20 evening English classes per day in seven villages. Amazing!
International Children’s Day is celebrated worldwide on June 1st, and in Chanleas Dai, it was celebrated in style! Teachers, students, administrators, and the PEPY team worked together to celebrate students through a creative market—a space where students practiced life skills and financial management by making and selling small products in their classes. Creative, colorful, and fun students’ work included handmade paintings, clay pottery, paper picture frames, and delicious treats—all sold to community members from nearby villages who exchanged Cambodian riel for fake money (think Monopoly bills) at the entrance so children had a risk-free way of practicing cash counting and handling.
At the beginning of 2010, we organized a staff retreat to Jambok Hoas, a high ropes course and retreat area in northern Cambodia. In addition to zipline-ing, and tree swinging, the PEPY staff was able to work on leadership and communication skills as well as strategize about ways to improve our programs upon our return. I guess it worked as 2010 was a great year for PEPY’s team in terms of leadership, motivation, collaboration, and innovation! If you missed it, be sure to watch our short staff retreat video!
This past summer, the Child-to-Child team organized 8 weeks of leadership training programs. Each week, a few students from each of PEPY’s 15 Child to Child clubs spent a week learning and living together. Awatd and the Child Educators organized teambuilding games, bonfires, and leadership trainings and at the end of each week, the students were so sad to say goodbye to their new friends that they are already looking forward to next summer! For many students, this was their first time to meet kids from many of the other communities, some of which are far from their home. They were able to make new friends and share ideas which will help the individual students grow while also developing the potential of the Child to Child programs impact for years to come.
Wow, it seems like only yesterday that PEPY’s Communications team sat down to brainstorm ways to increase funding and support for PEPY’s programs. It was during one particular brainstorming session that the Power of 10 was conceived. What began as an interesting experiment to see how far one person’s impact could reach grew into something truly incredible. Through your support, we were able to raise over $95,000 with donations coming in from over 25 countries (donations are still coming in!). With a generous match from an anonymous donor, the total stands at $192,445.26! Thank you for investing in Cambodia’s future generation, for believing in the work we do, and for allowing us to continue our mission to improve access to quality education in Cambodia
Earlier this year our CLC team and students spent the two months transforming an uninspiring school building with plain white walls and a few desks at the junior high school into a vibrant and colorful learning area. One half of the Creative Learning Space remains open to students and teachers as a place to share ideas, read books, study, engage with interactive activities, or create artwork. The process of turning what was an almost empty classroom into a space that facilitates creative learning and growth was an invigorating and inspiring experience. It is a place that students can feel connected to and proud of.
This year was the first year that PEPY created a comprehensive and detailed annual report. Its pages are filled with program updates, pictures, staff profiles, financials, and aspirations for where we want to be in the upcoming years. We couldn’t have done it without the hard work and energy of our amazing program staff in Chanleas Dai who continue to give us exciting things to write about. Thank you all for your feedback, support, and for being there with us as we continue to learn and grow.
For a lot of the staff at PEPY, this year marked their first ever Thanksgiving celebration. PEPY staff and friends spent the day cooking an international feast of cakes, pies, salads, curries, rice, spring rolls, and other delicious goodies. Reflecting on this past year, and in particular after the tragic bridge stampede that occurred in Phnom Penh, we felt like we have so much to be grateful for being surrounded by family and friends.
Chim Seng is our Traveling Teacher Support program coordinator. He travels to five schools training other teachers to deliver English programs in their own schools. This past summer, Seng took his first trip abroad to America where he was helping students at Camp Sangamon in Vermont. When we picked Seng up from the airport he was like a different person! Everyone was impressed with his newfound confidence and improved English skills. In June and July of this year, staff member Rithy Thul also travelled to the US to participate in various events. He spent some time working with American youth at Camp Sangamon, and also traveled to the Sierra mountains to participate in leadership training with Where There Be Dragons, one of PEPY Tours partner organizations. When asked what his favorite thing about his time abroad was, Rithy replied, “snow!”
Next month, Layheng Ting will join PEPY to fill the role of Managing Director—and we are all so excited for her arrival. Originally from Kampong Cham province, Layheng has spent the past five years earning her masters and then her PhD in Education Administration and Policy in the United States. While studying, she has also been working as the Executive Director of a community education NGO serving underprivileged youth in upstate New York. We all look forward to working with Layheng, and we’re confident that the wealth of knowledge and experience she brings will further PEPY’s goals of providing sustainable, quality education in Cambodia.