by Thea Anderson
Noun Riem envisions big things for the students of Chanleas Dai commune. He believes that good writing prepares children for higher education and any professional career they may pursue. As part of his dream to instill a writing culture in rural Cambodia, Noun has begun a Newspaper Club for students in Grades 7 and 8. He hopes that his students will one day be able to write articles and stories that are comparable to the published ones they read. Noun’s ultimate goal is for his students to share their experiences with the community through their writing.
The Newspaper Club has been running in Chanleas Dai Junior High School since the beginning of February 2012. Four students from Grades 7 and 8 have elected to join this club, with additional students expected to participate in the coming months. The Newspaper Club meets 3 times a week and focuses on developing skills including interviewing, structuring newspaper articles, and photography. Through these lessons, the students improve their writing techniques and learn how to produce short-form journal articles.
For the first club activity, one student interviewed a fellow participant on why she wanted to become a teacher (The article in Khmer is written here). Meanwhile, the other two students worked together to interview a local farmer whose chicken was stolen. This month, the class has focused on the history of pagodas. The children are conducting interviews within their community in order to uncover some interesting facts around this subject. By offering opportunities to practice journalism, we hope there will be more and more avid young writers emerging in Chanleas Dai Junior High School in the years to come.
By perfecting the skills needed to interview fellow community members the students are able to build confidence in their abilities and strengthen relationships with the community at the same time. Furthermore, students are the ones leading the effort to determine what news should be reported and shared. This ties back to the goals of encouraging youth leadership while connecting students further to their local communities.