Graduation in Chanleas Dai
The PEPY Team Journal
On July 22nd, Chanleas Dai Primary School celebrated their graduation day. The day featured guest speakers, awards for high performing students and teachers, and the presentation of the third class of PEPY’s Bike-to-School Program bikes. This year, due to a food shortage and fear of another year of near-drought conditions, a gift of rice was also included in the graduation ceremony. Laura Bradley, a new intern with PEPY, reflects on the day.
Welcome to PEPY, Laura!
Graduation in Chanleas Dai
By Laura Bradley
The lead up to graduation was madness with bicycle painting, classroom cleaning, and organizing – the whole shebang. Luckily, there was a team of 13 PEPY staff who, along with what seemed like thousands of students (though was probably closer to50), we managed to complete the entire “To-Do” list Daniela had created. As far as I know, this is the first time in PEPY history that a Daniela “To-Do” list has been finished!
Tuesday started bright and early with graduation planned to begin at 7 am. It look a while for everyone to get ready to start and before the 80 shiny green and yellow bikes were lined up in the sun, the parents were sitting at desks in the shade, and students in their uniforms were in lines standing in front of the school. The school director started the event by asking the children to stand at attention, spread out, turn left, turn right, and turn around. When a child turned the wrong way, he or she was met with gentle laughter from the waiting crowd. The ceremony was full of speeches punctuated with loud Cambodian music blasting from the school boom-box. There were performances by students including a skit performed by some of the Child to Child leaders. The skit was a short piece teaching about the importance of being clean. The highlight of the ceremony was certainly at the very end when the students stood with their parents to receive their bicycles. When they received the bikes their faces were stoic, as that is required for formal events in Cambodia, but as they rode away, the tinkling of the bell and growing smiles betrayed their glee.
By one o’clock the graduation ceremony was completed, graduating students had received their bikes, and the PEPY team began to distribute 10 kilogram bags of rice to each student. Teachers called out their students’ names, when a student’s name was called they would step forward and in all seriousness try to take the 22 pound bag of rice. We had to be careful, as some of the younger children seemed smaller than their bag!
All in all, we had a great three days. We cleaned the house, sorted supplies, and painted educational pictures in the English and Computer classrooms. We also played a lot of soccer, met everyone in town, and watched a video that was projected onto a sheet hung on the school on Tuesday night. All experiences you can’t get on the typical tourist track! It was hard work, but we had a lot of help and a lot of fun.