If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together

Saturday, August 2017
by Sarakk Rith

IMG_3329Four years on, PEPY Empowering Youth and Donabate Portrane Educate Together National School (DPETNS) continue to have an equal partnership, going from strength to strength. This year, we also worked with St. Francis St and Donabate Community College.

In March 2017, four PEPY Empowering Youth representatives, Sarakk and Manin, returning to Ireland and two students of PEPY, Thyda and Sithong for their first time visited Ireland for three weeks, as part of the partnership. They spent their time learning about Irish culture and education, meeting other people, visiting different schools in Ireland, as well as sharing about Cambodian culture and the education system.

IMG_3378April was a special month for the partnership as Maeve, principal of DPETNS got the opportunity to spend a week working in PEPY, her motivation for the partnership led to her return during the summer exchange with Micheál, Mary, Dee from Greenhills Community School and Avril from St. Francis St. The three weeks was a mix of fun and learning. Over the course of their time at PEPY Learning Center, the Irish teachers taught students across a range of subjects, such as Music, Irish dancing, Positive Mental Health, Geography, introduced a reading scheme and worked on Interview skills etc. The focus this summer was on building awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals, the students learnt about the seventeen goals and focused on the goal of education.IMG_4808We read about Malala and her story. She is an inspiration for building awareness of what needs to improve. The students focused on what changes they would like to see in the Khmer educational system.

A key part of the partnership is the annual visit to Kralanh to meet parents of PEPY students. The Irish teachers get to learn about how the people in the rural community live. “This is a wonderful day as, we got the opportunity to go to the community of where the students come from and see the positive impact they are having there. It is evident from meeting parents that they are very proud of their sons and daughters and what they are working towards.” PEPY and the Irish teachers went to Battambong for the weekend, to see another province of Cambodia. We went on the bamboo train, Khmer Rouge caves and to see an ancient house together.

IMG_3521“Each year we leave energized and in awe of the enthusiasm towards learning shown by all the students. We go back to Ireland after gaining an incredible experience that will continue to aid our teaching back at home.” The visit was a great opportunity for the partnership to flourish and personal connections to be strengthened further. As the summer exchange comes to an end we start to look forward to the visit to Ireland in March 2018. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and hope to see them back in Cambodia soon. We are excited to see what the future holds for our partnership.