Varin’s First Sharing Event: A Step Towards Success
PEPY’s Dream Management Project offers rural high school students the opportunity to begin to picture and plan a future for themselves by furthering their studies. For students in communities that are far outside of the city, lack of exposure can be one of the greatest barriers to continuing their education. Many students and families currently believe that education is not a high priority and students are encouraged to drop out of school to support their families through immediate income opportunities. For male students, this generally means seeking illegal work in neighboring countries or finding construction jobs. Female students are often expected to take care of their younger siblings and find local agriculture or construction jobs. While this work may put them in danger of physical harm and will not offer long term solutions for their families, families with low income and limited resources may not even be aware what other options are available.
Dream Project disrupts this cycle by showing communities what job opportunities are possible, how encouraging their children to stay in school can be beneficial for the entire family, and how it can be financially feasible.
In addition to regular Dream Classes for students Grade 10-12, there are several key events and activities that impact community awareness and support for higher education.
The first is the Dream Study Tour where students are taken to Siem Reap (some for the very first time) to visit higher education institutions, meet with educators/employers, and see what life is like in the city. The Dream Skills Fair is when city-based professionals and program representatives come to the high schools and set up booths for students to come up to them and learn about their professions and ask questions.
During another activity called Dream Talks, professionals come into Dream Classes and discuss what particular skills and training students will need to pursue their profession. Students in the class are then able to ask specific questions to the visitor. The last major event is the Sharing Event where leaders and professionals share their story and life lessons with the students helping to motivate them to achieve their own goals.
These events, combined with regular classes that teach interpersonal skills, higher education preparation, with assistance in scholarship applications, greatly alter the students’ futures and families preconceived notions about staying in school.
PEPY has worked in Kralanh High School since 2012, and when the program started, students’ entry rate into higher education was approximately 25%. Through our interventions and establishment of PEPY scholars as community role models, the higher education access rate is now above 75%. Now we are applying what we have learned over the last 8 years in 3 additional high schools hoping to achieve the same or even better results.
PEPY’s newest Dream Management Project site, as of 2019, is Varin High School in Varin District. Despite the slow but steady increases in technology and resources reaching communities, Varin is particularly remote with PEPY being the only NGO partnering with the school. Currently, the higher education access rate is 38%. Although the project site is new, we are excited to see great levels of participation during PEPY’s activities. Not only did Dream Class registration exceed our expectations, our recent Sharing Event in January was attended by 396 staff and students (our goals point was over 300 attendees).
During the Varin Sharing Event, three speakers, Mr. Sim Vibol, Ms. Set Hatha, and Mr. Soun Kheun, were featured. Mr. Sim Vibol is a Law Professor at University of South East Asia (USEA) Siem Reap campus and an Independent Consultant on Labor Law and Immigration. In addition, he is also a human rights advocate and has spoken in Thailand, South Korea, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, German, France, and the USA. His topic for the Dream Talk was “How to Catch the Opportunity of Studying for the Future Job”. He shared about the current job market in Cambodia and about overcoming his struggles during his studies. He said, “do not run out from your community but you have to run out from ignorance.” At the end of his session, he talked about general job requirements like English, Computer, and soft-skill which is related to Dream Management Project as well.
Ms. Set Hatha is from an agrarian family in Po Satt Province Cambodia. She works for Life Book Publishing House as Marketing Manager and Co-Founder while also finding success as an author with her book “Journey”. Her session was “Be Patient Before Reaching Your Goal.” She wants students to fight for their education because in the past no one inspired her to study, including her parents. She said that her life before was so dark because she went to school with no money and no proper clothes. For her, reading a book was the best way to get herself out of evil places. She wanted the students to feel confident to challenge their comfort zones. She left the students with an inspiring thought by saying, “the life ranking no one set for us, we have to set by ourselves.”
The final speaker, Mr. Soun Kheun, participated in his third Sharing Event. He used to work at Lataste Organization as an Executive Director and is an English Lecturer at Build Bright University. His topic at Varin was “Better Presentation or Dressing as a Student”. He talked about how to be successful. He challenged the students to ask themselves, “[are] you a lazy person or hard working student?” He also talks about how to dress correctly. As students, they should wear black trousers, a white shirt, and proper shoes. He said that one person should not wear over 3 colors at the same time to present themselves well. After the Dream Talk, student Thkoeurng Bopha said “I like this event because I can learn new ideas and new pieces of advice from the speakers and new experiences. I want this event to happen again because I would learn more and more from the speakers.”
Through events like these, students’ minds are expanded and their sense of self worth and what they are capable of will only continue to grow. If this Sharing Event is any indication of how the project will help change the community’s mindset, we look forward to reporting Varin High School surpassing 75% higher education access rate within a few years.
In case you missed it, Varin’s Sharing Event also has a wonderful video highlighting the speakers and students’ experiences. Check it out below!