This school year seven graduates from the Srayang Dormitory moved to the Siem Reap dormitories to begin studying in High School. A major first for all of us; the first time every graduate from Srayang continued on to Grade 10 and the first time any of those students had made such a giant leap from their villages. It was our greatest experiment ever, and so far it has paid off.
“The Srayang Seven”, as we’ve begun to refer to them, have made marvelous strides since they set foot in Siem Reap. At first they were cautious, quiet, and unsure of how they’d stack up against their urban counterparts. Housemother Sreynith smiles as she tells the story of the time Som accidentally boiled three times the amount of rice needed before adjusting to a smaller cohort of girls as compared to Srayang. Tertiary education director Graham and student counselor Sokha headed over to the boys dorm one day to give a lesson about refrigerators, and how the mangoes shouldn’t go in the freezer unless you plan for it to be rock solid in the morning. Everyone finally got used to riding their bikes in the big city of Siem Reap and settled in with their new “big brothers” and “big sisters” at the boys’ and girls’ dormitories.
It’s been six months since the Srayang graduates began their classes, and first semester scores are finally in. Everyone single one of them is in the top half of their class. What’s more, two shining stars have emerged among the group: brother and sister Chamnab and Chamnan ranked 10th and 11th in their class this semester respectively. To put this in perspective, classes at 10 January High School have more than 70 students in them.
As Graham puts it, “It takes a lot to come from the countryside to the city, and they’re not only holding their own, they’re close to the top of their class. It’s amazing how quickly they’ve gotten up to speed. The fact that they’re now competing with and rising above many students from the town is down to their own dedication and hard work. Our urban dorms provide a nurturing environment for new arrivals. The older students offer guidance and support, which has really allowed these seven students to hit the ground running. This is just the beginning and we can’t wait to see them build on this in the years ahead. ”
The Srayang Seven are the first complete graduating class from Srayang to continue onward to Grade 10, but there were three who went first. We’re pleased to add that Ravuth and Non both placed in the top half of their Grade 11 classes this semester, with Non ranking 5th. And Channy, Srayang Dorm’s first ever university student, is now interning at a major international law firm in Phnom Penh in addition to her first year studies at the Royal University of Law and Economics.
In August we spoke about grit. How these students have come from an area where the elders in their village’s views on education were “I’ll allow it, but I won’t support it.” How these bright young students are each firsts in their families. And here they are now, continuing to break down walls for those behind them with each success. We hope you will find as much joy in following their stories as we do.