“I will seek a scholarship to continue my studies at the university in 2022. In this workshop, I gained a lot of knowledge and expressed my personal opinions, the opinions of my teammates about their goals are all good and especially good comments from the facilitator. I now understand a lot about preparing for college and preparing to leave home to go to college and how to apply, preparing many questions to ask to the university as well.”
In October during the first round of school closures, we sent 63 students entering grade 12 to a 4 day workshop retreat in Rattankiri in the northeastern part of the country. As further evidence of the what we have referred to as “Cambodia’s boy problem” out of 63 attendees , only 14 were boys”.
Workshops have become a critical component of our students’ education, giving them the chance to develop essential life skills. Current PLF University students have reported to us via surveys that the skills they learned in workshops was one of the top three things PLF does for students and should be increased as much as possible.
Since we had been unable to do many workshops during school closures, we took this opportunity to have a “workshop cramming course” and really get to know these students on a personal level, understanding their goals and their pathways to achieving them. In the pre-COVID years, it’s the career fairs that we usually help students prepare for life after high school and also gather this sort of intel, intel that helps us determine which students should carry onto University, to Vocational Training, or head straight into the workforce.
For the students that will go on to University, it is important they are prepared for life away from home. These are the skills no one teaches you in school. Life Hacks that sadly, most parents are not prepared to impart on their children.
How’d it all go down?
The students were split into mixed groups of 10-12 from Chey, Knar, Romchek, Srayang, and Siem Reap. Over the course of 20 days these groups, one at a time, would travel to Ratanakiri to meet the PLF facilitators. Most of the students had never left their hometown before this journey to a completely different part of Cambodia, which certainly added an extra layer of excitement and intrigue.
What did they learn?
Over the course of 4 days each group participated in team building exercises, goal setting and career prep workshops. They went on excursions to explore and learn about the surrounding areas of Ratanakiri, largely inhabited by indigenous (hilltribe) people, where village life is vastly different from the village life they have been exposed to.
The mammoth task of scholarship selection lays ahead of us, and this workshop was impactful for us. We were able to connect to the students in a way like never before, giving us a deeper understanding of which students are solid candidates for the scholarship program and which students need extra preparation to achieve their goals.
The pre and post-workshop surveys were astonishing. Here are some of our favorite quotes from the students once they returned home:
“I’m really happy to get to know other students. Even though we are from different schools, for 3 nights and 4 days, it made me feel like I’ve known them for a long time. . On the other hand, when the teacher gives some activities (playing games, group discussions, …), all friends are actively involved. And all their sharing of ideas is good. More importantly, I feel that they are very friendly.”
“The way that teacher taught us was really great. The teacher has a clear schedule and good time management so it does not make me feel bored or sleepy while studying. Because during class, teachers also do breathing exercises (meditation), playing games, as well as group discussions … which makes me feel more educated and for some of the questions I asked they responded perfectly to me as well as to the friends who attended the entire workshop.”