New Perspectives from Cambodia-Ireland Exchange

Posted on: May 10, 2019 Posted by: Kaia Smith Comments: 0

New Perspectives from Cambodia-Ireland Exchange

This year’s Cambodia to Ireland Exchange, made possible by the Irish National Teacher’s Organization (INTO), was an invaluable opportunity for participants from both countries to gain cultural awareness, learn from different perspectives and approaches, and build upon and create relationships across borders. 2 PEPY staff members, Dena By and Konnitha Sien, and 2 PEPY Scholarship students, Ousa Dung and Sotheareak Heang, represented Cambodia this year, and after having returned home, they shared about what they gained from their experience:

Sotheareak: “I think it’s important that subjects like art and woodworking are available in Ireland’s public schools because they help the students with their critical thinking skills, imagination, and ability to make things with their hands. Also, the connection between teachers and students is so close. What I liked the most about Donabate Portrane Education Together National School (DPETNS) is the desire of the teachers to provide all the students a fair and equal education.”

“During the Fun Run event, I felt so proud to see the Cambodian flag in my hands while running through students and community members. I heard the sounds of people cheering for us, and that is the best memory that I will never ever forget.”

“After having travel to Ireland, many things have changed in my life. I have realized that travelling is important to learn and get new experiences. And my family, relatives, villagers, teachers, and friends are so proud of me. I feel even more confident to talk with people in English. I also realized how rich Cambodia is in its culture. Overall, I think this exchange is so important for the Cambodia Ireland Partnership because we both can learn from each other. The most amazing about the exchange is not about the buildings, not about how rich or modern they are, but it is about the people there. They are very nice and welcoming people who care about their country and education system so much, and they are open to learning from other cultures.”

Ousa: “I loved that DPETNS’s school principal, Maeve, always greets students and remembers their names. I also noticed that books are everywhere in Ireland – even in my host family’s toilet!”

“After traveling to Ireland my life has changed a lot. For example, my presentation and English skills have improved. I now have a higher commitment to reach my goals because I think that Cambodia can become more developed like Ireland. Also, I am more motivated to change my community through spending time to educate and read to my sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews like they do in Ireland.”

“I think Irish people learned a lot from me because my background is so different from theirs, as someone from a poor farming family who was the first in my family (second in my community) to get the chance to go to university.”

“I would like to say thank you very much to INTO, DPETNS, and all the other schools and individuals involved in this exchange. I am so happy to have had the chance to get in a plane and a train, drink tea with milk, see the sea. This story of traveling will bring lessons learned to students in my high school, my family and myself. Ireland is a cold country but I felt so warm every day because of the students, teachers, and Irish people, especially my host family, that I met.

Dena: “My favorite experience in Ireland was observing classes at DPETNS and Donabate Community College (DCC) because I learned a lot about the different style of teaching they have and how they allow students to think freely. I also observed that every single person I met works hard and values travel as a way to learn new things from the other countries.”

“I think it is very important for Cambodians to learn about different cultures of the other countries, if they can get the opportunity, as you can learn so much about life.”