By: Maryann Bylander
One of the things I love about being part of the Asian University for Women recruitment process is that I get a small taste of the results we are hoping for in Chanleas Dai: young people finding their passion and pursuing it. For most of my days at PEPY I’m surrounded by primary and secondary school students: young people who are still 5-10 years away from pursuing their dreams. They inspire me daily, however it’s difficult to see the big picture of what impacts they will have on their community and country.
This week I had the opportunity to get to know 45 bright young women who are Cambodia’s tomorrow, those who will be the ones to make waves in education, finance, foreign affairs, IT, and business. They represent the hopes I have for every student in Chanleas Dai, not because they will be leaders, but because they are following their passions. They are excited about learning, motivated, thoughtful, community-oriented, and confident. For three days I met with the short-listed AUW candidates in Phnom Penh, monitoring their entrance exam and then interviewing them along with two Khmer selection committee members. We saw charisma, determination, self-confidence, and ambition as we spoke with each of them about their dreams, motivations and challenges.
Their reasons for applying to AUW differed. One young woman wanted to work in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the future, improving the relationships between her country and others within Asia. Another had always dreamed of working in global finance so that she could bring more investments into her city. A third grew up in the countryside, and wanted to study environmental engineering so that she could improve agriculture in her homeland. Several spoke of losing parents at a young age, and the sacrifices made by family members so that they could continue their studies. They wanted to improve the educational systems in Cambodia, working as teachers and administrators to ensure inclusive educational for impoverished students. What struck me perhaps the most was the way they supported and helped each other. Even those students who were strangers before the entrance test days were supporting and encouraging each other prior to their interviews.
I’m incredibly grateful that the recommendations of our recruitment team here are only recommendations, with AUW making final decisions on who is selected for scholarships. Each candidate I met impressed me with her motivation, drive, and skills.
We have sent our recommendations and all tests off to Bangladesh, and we look forward to sharing AUW scholarships results in the coming weeks. In the meantime, to learn more about AUW click here. To learn about PEPY’s partnership with AUW, click here