Dare to dream

Tuesday, March 2015
by Dana Bidnall

Dream_large

Dream Class is one of our three current programs. It operates in Kralanh District, a rural region approximately 60 km from the city of Siem Reap in Siem Reap province. In 2007, when we hired our first Cambodian director, she conducted an impact assessment and needs analysis, which led to the decision to focus our work in this region.

In these classes, young people are provided a forum to identify and discuss their ambitions for their future beyond high school, and any challenges they may need to overcome. We aim to nurture these ambitions and give students the resources and connections to take the necessary steps to realizing that future. We believe it’s important for young people to dream big and see how they can make their dreams a reality.

The classes provide career resources, mentorship, and group workshops. Successful Cambodian professionals present to our students giving them exposure to different ideas and aspirations.

The Dream Classes program underwent a transition last year. For the 2014–2015 academic year, we chose to focus our classes on Grade 10, 11, and 12 students at Kralanh High School. Formerly, Dream Classes were offered to Grade 9 students at Chanleas Dai Junior High School and grade 12 students at Kralanh High School. However, we found that the younger students struggled to understand some of the concepts of the class and therefore have chosen to work with older students.

For our 2014 intake, we had 399 students register for Dream Class, a significant increase from the previous academic year when approximately 100 students attended. Currently, about 70% of those students attend the classes regularly, a result of their busy schedules. This academic year, the principal has also provided us with an office, allowing us to provide counseling for students.

Unfortunately, the start of our Dream Classes for the 2014-2015 academic year was delayed by major country-wide changes to the high school national exam and the education system, thus classes did not commence until December, one month later than anticipated.

The past three months, Dream Classes have covered a number of topics including discovering dreams, goal setting, creative writing, presentation skills, self-esteem, study planning, mental health, giving and receiving constructive feedback, eight steps towards success, and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

We also invited some of the teachers from the Learning Center in Siem Reap to share their personal and professional life experiences and ensured students were made aware of different scholarship opportunities and any announcements from the government education website.

Recently, some students from Dream Class shared their thoughts:

“I want to be a proactive person because I could learn to be patient, overcome challenges, and be honest.” – Raksa, grade 11

“Knowing the end goal helps to think about ourselves to avoid failure in the future which could lead to success.” – Kea, grade 10

“One of the habits that I want to adapt is synthesize to extract all the good things and be creative, work in group, and learn to adapt with outside environment.” – Rany, grade 11

So what’s planned for the rest of this academic year? Besides the ongoing curriculum, we will host our third Skills Fair at Kralanh High School on March 31. Its objective is to connect students to further educational opportunities and showcase potential careers and employers.

The event also aims to help students understand what is required in order to obtain scholarships to continue their education. Typically, it is staffed by organizations including other NGOs who provide scholarships as well as universities and vocational schools.

In addition, a sharing event will be held later this year. This half-day event brings together inspirational speakers to share their personal and professional experiences to students. The opportunity to hear from Cambodian professionals provides exposure to different ideas and aspirations.

Stay tuned for more updates on Dream Class as the year progresses.