By Jacqui Rawson
Sororn and Channy have just experienced, at 17 years of age, a significant moment in their young lives. They’ve been introduced to a change in a way of thinking and found a new ability and confidence to challenge themselves to face the world head on.
Banteay Srei isn’t just a temple “renowned for its intricate decoration carved in pinkish sandstone that cover the walls like tapestry” it’s also the area where Sororn and Channy grew up, went to Knar primary school, and currently attend Banteay Srei High School. It’s about 30 minute’s tuk tuk drive from Siem Reap town and is deep in “rural” Cambodia.
When asked if they wanted to attend a six-week course in Siem Reap on Youth Leadership Development, they agreed but with a sense of apprehension for something that was completely new to them. They had concerns about coming into the city and studying with teachers and students that they had never met. Channy questioned Sokha, our PLF Student Advisor and Community Liaison;
“How do they teach? Will we understand what they want us to learn?”
Possibilities World who run the course, offer up a very different way of learning from what Sororn and Channy are used to; breaking up into pairs or groups to discuss a topic, playing constructive learning games, encouraging each other that its ok to have an idea and express it, brainstorming – of rote learning there was none.
I attended the end-of-course ceremony and could feel the sense of achievement and pride bursting into the room. The feeling was of their new confidence; they were proud of themselves and the new and exciting something they had obtained . . . an armament of new knowledge!
Towards the end of the graduation ceremony, students took the floor to provide their take on the last six weeks. Although not yet brave enough to be the first, Sororn did stand up before the group, who six weeks ago had been complete strangers to him and talked about the most important part of the course to him.“I was not a confident person and I had always been shy”
He also said the game that taught him the most, was one on how to deal with stress. How to stop and think about the conflict or situation logically and find a way to get through was something that had touched base with him out of the course.“I had never heard of meditation before but I find it interesting and something I enjoy. I’ll keep using this in the future”.
Sokha said Sororn and Channy came into the office after the ceremony to give her an update;“they were so excited, you could see it in their eyes, their eyes showed how much they got out of this course. They were not the same people as they were six weeks ago”