Sochea is a PEPY Empowering Youth Scholarship student from the third intake. She is currently in her preparation year for a degree in English literature at PUC in Siem Reap, and in her second year of attending classes at the PEPY Learning Center.
Sochea comes from Chanleas Dai village, which is located in Kralanh district, approximately 60km away from Siem Reap town. Chanleas Dai is a small, rural village where the large majority of the population is dependent on rice farming to earn a living. Access to education beyond primary level is limited, meaning that many people do not receive the education necessary to pursue higher paying jobs. For many young people, illegal migration to Thailand is seen as a way to make quick money in a short time. However, the route is fraught with dangers and risks – those who choose this path are sacrificing an investment in education, and a more secure future, in favor of short-term, unsustainable economic gain. This is exactly what PEPY Empowering Youth aims to counteract through our programs: Dream Class, Learning Center and Scholarship.
Prior to becoming a Scholarship student, Sochea had little confidence in her English skills, as well as little practical experience. She found it difficult to communicate with foreigners and didn’t understand a large amount of what they said to her. This feeling of not being able to speak and understand English had an impact on Sochea’s motivation for learning the language, and she came to feel like it wasn’t so important for her to learn it. During her time at high school, she found that the time dedicated to learning English was not enough to generate a real enthusiasm for it and so she did not give it much thought.
When the PEPY Empowering Youth Scholarship opportunity was announced at Kralanh High School, Sochea applied and was successful. An integral part of the Scholarship program is learning English, both at the PEPY Learning Center as well as externally at specialist schools such as ACE and PUC. During the first few weeks of English lessons at the Learning Center, Sochea was very nervous about speaking, for fear of saying something wrong. However, with practice and encouragement, slowly her confidence began to grow and she started to really enjoy the challenge of learning English. Once her lessons started at ACE and PUC, her confidence and skills improved once again, and she was able to look back and see how much she has achieved so far. Sochea is extremely happy that she is able to continue her English studies at such renowned institutions in Siem Reap, as this is something she could never had imagined as a child.
Looking ahead to the future, Sochea has some wonderful aspirations. Having discovered a real enjoyment of English, she hopes to be able to study abroad in the USA, Australia or the United Kingdom. Not only that, but she hopes one day to work in the NGO sector so she can help other Cambodians to achieve a bright future, thereby improving life for the people in her country. Finally, Sochea hopes to be able to support her family and help her two brothers finish school, showing them that an education really is worth the investment.
Sochea has made incredible progress since coming to PEPY and we are very excited to see what she will do in the future.