Extracurricular Activities Promote Open Minds

Monday, November 2018
by Kaia Smith

With a PEPY Scholarship, students receive a wide range of capacity building classes and opportunities that ensure that they develop not only their hard and soft skills, but also their creativity, critical thinking, and global/social awareness. In addition to regular English, ICT, and soft skill classes, Scholarship students also visit and receive workshops from other organizations such as Gender and Sexuality from Penhjet Counseling, Disability Awareness from SOULcial Trust, and Reproductive Health from American Corner and Project G.

Two students, Makara and Yinhyung, explained their experiences with these extracurricular opportunities over the last year. “They allow us to see, experience, and understand new things. If we only studied in class, we would only get theories. These extra activities let us interact with the things we are learning and learn more about the world,” said Makara. Yinhyung added, “Now, we can have more conversations and meet more people, which gives us more confidence and the chance to learn more about others. For example, music class allowed us to relax and increase our creative skills, and gave us more ideas to have conversation with others who might be interested in music and art.”

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Makara and Yinhyung

One of their favorite activities was joining the STEM Cambodia Fair in Phnom Penh (supported by the US Embassy). Makara explained why it was important for all of the students, not just those interested in STEM fields in particular, to experience it: “Even though I am studying English, I will use what I learned at the fair because it helped me think about the technological skills I need to prepare for as a teacher in order to best plan my lessons and interact with my students.” “We learned new things, got to experience science in a creative way, and think about innovation as an aspect of daily life,” said Yinhyung.

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STEM Cambodia Fair

Yoga (with AZAHAR) and music (with Music for Everyone School) classes also allowed students to become more expressive and find ways to de-stress. “After we went to AZAHAR, I immediately felt less stressed and more ready to study. We still practice it on our own!” explained Makara. Yinhyung also felt that music classes were integral to personal and academic development: “Learning about music and guitar helped us to relax and develop a new skill outside of academics. When I’m stressed sometimes I play guitar at home and it helps me a lot.”

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Yoga with AZAHAR

 

With Writing Through, students learn conceptual writing in order to increase confidence, creativity, and critical thinking skills. Yinhyung described the changes this workshop made for him: “I learned to think differently about my environment. It improved the way I think and the way I use my language, and now I can communicate more fluidly and openly. Sometimes I still write poems, or at least think of poetic ways of describing things in my head.” “I feel much more creative now, especially because I now make comparisons between things and ideas that I wouldn’t have made before. I still write stories, which is also a great way to practice my English,” said Makara

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Because these opportunities increase confidence and open-mindedness through new and interesting topics, students are motivated to learn more about a variety skills and issues that will ultimately help them to connect with more people and be more aware about the many environments around them. They also holistically prepare students for their jobs by allowing them to explore many contexts in which critical thinking, open-mindedness, adaptability, and communications skills are valuable, thereby increasing their ability to use these concepts fluidly.

Thank you so much to all of the amazing support from our partners who have made these visits possible! PEPY is fortunate to have connections with so many beneficial organizations so that our students can learn from the amazing work they’re doing. We look forward to seeing how PEPY students choose to utilize the ideas they’ve learned from all of these opportunities in their work and/or community projects!