Power of the Partnership
It has been three years since PEPY Empowering Youth and Donabate Portrane Educate Together National School (DPETNS) established a partnership together. Since then, it has grown to include Balbriggan Educate Together National School (BETNS) and this year to St. Francis Street Boy’s School, located in Dublin City.
This year, in May, four PEPY Empowering Youth representatives, a staff member, two students and a PEPY Empowering Youth board member visited Ireland for three weeks, as part of the partnership. They spent their time learning about Irish culture and education, meeting other people, visiting different schools in Ireland, as well as sharing about Cambodian culture and the education system. The four PEPY representatives learnt a lot and really benefited from their visit. You can read more about their trip, here. At the end of July and early August this year, five teachers came to Cambodia for a reciprocal visit; Micheál, Jenny, Fiachra and Mary from DPETNS and Sarah from Francis Street to spend three weeks with us. This is Micheál’s and Jenny’s third year to return and Fiachra returned to Cambodia for the second time to work with students at PEPY Empowering Youth’s students. In addition to that, Nadine, the co-chair of the partnership, Nadine’s children and Rosemary, the principal of a primary school in Ireland joining us.
The three weeks was a mix of fun and learning. Over the course of their time at PEPY Learning Center, the Irish teachers taught students across a range of subjects, such as music, Irish dancing, trading games, about the education system, metal health, positive thinking, stress management, football, problem solving skills, team building activities, presentation skills, CV and Interview skills etc. Students were exposed to learning techniques which are common in Ireland; the students found these lessons to be educational, engaging and fun, with the Fizz Buzz mathematics game became a widespread favourite.
Besides working with students at the Learning Center, teacher spent time working with Dream Management Class at Kralah High School. There, students learn about setting goals, how to overcome the challenges in their lives and how to keep their dreams alive. Through the energizer games and discussion, students got to learn deeper from the Irish teachers in term of motivation, disciplines, and how to work as a team especially people from different background.
This year is a very special one as PEPY got the opportunity to host two different training events. This first was about Management and Leadership provided by Nadine and Micheál to leaders, managers and staff from seven NGOs in Seim Reap. The training focused on personality type, one thought at the time, receiving and giving feedback, proposal development and how to talk to donors. All the participants found this training very useful and wish to have more in the future. The second training was about the how to teach English and work with students provided by Mary, Sarah and Rosemary. Teacher training was opened to teachers from other NGOs in Siem Reap and focused on different types of learners, curriculum development, and students approaches. Although the training period was only for two days, participants viewed it as a special ingredient for their teaching professionalism.
Out of working hours, PEPY staff took Irish teachers to see Primary and Lower Secondary Schools in Chanleas Dai as well as Kralanh High School. Moreover, they visited some staff and students’ family to see and learn about people in the rural communities lives. Fiachra, Colm and Mary engaged students in sport activities to improve the connection between students. This year, female students at PEPY and Salariin Kampuchea played together one time and hope to increase more in the future. Cycling around Angkor Area initiated by students was wonderful. Both Irish and Cambodian students and teachers went on the bicycle together, sang a song, talked together along the road and the energizer games together. This has be a very good opportunity for students to build up their leadership skills.
Although they had travelled to Cambodia with the underlying aim of teaching the scholarship students, the ETNS teachers found that they ended their time at PEPY having gained some newfound knowledge themselves. All of the teachers were struck by the level of enthusiasm towards education and learning shown by all of the students they encountered during their time here. They were also impressed by the interpersonal skills exhibited by the students; they noted that they are ‘extremely good at helping each other and working as part of a team’.
The visit was a great opportunity for the partnership to flourish and personal connections to be strengthened further. Everyone is incredibly grateful for all the hard work the teachers put into the three weeks, and all the knowledge that has been shared over that time. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and hope to see them back in Cambodia soon. We are excited to see what the future holds for our partnership.