How PEPY’s Dream Program Fosters Mental and Practical Preparedness for Success

Monday, June 2018
by Kaia Smith

IMG_1711As part of PEPY’s mission to connect young Cambodians to the inspirations, skills, and opportunities to reach their potential, staff organize regular Skills Fairs and Sharing Events for Dream Management Class and Scholarship students. At these events, participants get to hear from different employers, organizations, universities/training centers, and Cambodian leaders in order to expose them to opportunities and encourage thinking about and planning for future success. This year alone, PEPY’s Skills Fairs and Sharing Events have reached over 1,000 people, most of whom are high school students in our target areas.

At Skills Fairs, high school and university students can interact with different employment and educational institutions to answer questions such as “what degrees are available in Siem Reap, and which should I pursue amidst current and future job markets?” and “what kinds of skills are local employers looking for in applicants?” Students collect scholarship application forms for university and vocational institutions, look at job announcements, and get to ask questions directly to professionals.

IMG_1760Many students have expressed that after attending Skills Fairs, they are better equipped to make decisions about their courses of study and futures. One high school student who attended a Skills Fair in Srei Snom in March, Chhoeurn Theb, said, “It was great to join this event because it helped me to gain more information related to my future career as a tour guide and I received important key pointers about passing the entrance exam.” Another student, Srey Nich, said, “I was struggling to choose between my favorite subjects to study after high school. In the Skills Fair event, I met 2 different universities. After these conversations, I am confidently choosing to be an Accounting major.” Srey also mentioned that she will share the information she learned about job opportunities to her friends and community.

On the other hand, Sharing Events offer an opportunity for students to hear the success stories from both Cambodian leaders, who share their methods and advice for setting and achieving goals, and from fellow students, who present effective studying tips. These events are not just practical, but also inspirational; as Savoeng, Kralanh’s Dream Project Officer says, “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.”

IMG_9516The last Sharing Event was held on May 25th at Kralanh High School, where 3 guest speakers, Chea Vybol, Kimline Nuch, and Kheun Soun, as well as 2 students, Dara Phlot and Tha Peach, presented their experiences and advice. Mr. Vybol, who received his master’s degree in Public Policy from Yale University, currently works at the University of Southeast Asia as the Public Information Center (PIC) and American Corner (AC) Director, in collaboration with the World Bank, Asia Development Bank, The Asia Foundation and United Nation Development Programs. At the Sharing Event, he discussed how to become a professional worker. Despite failing his state entrance exam 4 times and being rejected 19 times from different master’s degree scholarships, he pushed forward and finally found success. He also shared some important tips for reaching one’s dreams, notably how to set goals, make concrete activity plans, and find motivating mentors. Lastly, he encouraged students to engage in community volunteer work, ending with the infamous JFK quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

IMG_9594Our second speaker was Kimline Nuch, who is director of ATCAM Tax Consulting, as well as PEPY’s Board Chair.  Her topic of discussion was ‘being yourself.’ She emphasized that it is OK to be unique and to take risks, saying that her key to success was chasing her passion and loving what she does. Stressing the importance of staying motivated, she said, “if you wake up without goals, then go back to sleep.” No matter what happens, she explained, it is important to motivate yourself and keep your dreams alive.

Mr. Kheun Soun, who is Marketing Agency Manager at Manulife PLC and an English Lecturer at Build Bright University, spoke about the importance of making a difference every day. He explained that it is important to first define what ‘making a difference’ looks like practically, recognize how you are different from others, and use this to improve the lives of others.

IMG_9650Together, Skills Fairs and Sharing Events offer both logistical and inspirational tools to encourage students to think bigger about what opportunities are realistically available to them; without these events, students tend to be aware of only a limited number of possible careers, especially because a lot of them have never even traveled to Siem Reap City. Sometimes, though, especially for rural youth, even gaining access to educational opportunities is quite overwhelming. For this reason, PEPY also attempts to stimulate students’ passions and support them in organizing all of this into approachable roadmaps to success. While Skills Fairs advertise the opportunities available and the requirements to reach them, Sharing Events provide a narrative to show the meaning, impact, and relevance of such opportunities. It is PEPY’s hope that such a comprehensive approach will spur an increase in young leaders who are also willing to share their stories of success and motivation with younger generations after them.

Skills Fair at 28 Makara High School in Srei Snam

2nd Sharing Event in Kralanh High School 2018