TSF Congratulates 2nd Class of College Graduates
On Sunday, October 24, 2010, our second class of college graduates celebrated the completion of four years at university. We are so proud of these students from the small village of Roteang for pursuing their dreams, and we are thankful for the support of their sponsors, who helped to make it all possible. Mam Sary, the Head of our English school in Roteang Village, where all the students had spent at least 4 years learning to speak and hear English, stood by at graduation very proudly. All the parents were there too, and each came up on the verandah with their own son or daughter as each graduate was handed a diploma from TSF, and an embossed portfolio.
It has been such a pleasure to watch these village kids mature from somewhat awkward ninth graders entering our sponsorship program to the sophisticated young men and women they are today. These nine students started out in our English program, which meets after school in the evenings. They applied for, and received sponsors to afford them the opportunity to stay in school and finish high school, something quite rare in rural Cambodia. They were then required to pass the national examination for completion of high school and to pass a required English exam at the Australian Center for Education in order to enter our college sponsorship program. Every year, under Sary’s able teachers in Roteang village, the qualifying English scores have risen and risen.
Two of the students, Kong Maneth and Sin Vuthy, attended the prestigious Institute for Foreign Language, a university which requires its students to pass a very stringent entrance exam. All classes in this program are taught by native English speakers. The others attended Norton University with majors varying from hotel and tourism to accounting.
All of these students are now employed, quite an accomplishment in a country with a high rate of unemployment and where most jobs are only available through contacts. We are proud to report that Kong Maneth is teaching in our TSF English school, and also our computer classes. Srey Vanny is working in the administrative office at Norton University and as resident advisor for our new University freshmen; Vandy is teaching English at a local school; Thavy is sales manager at a library; Vuthy is sales manager for a U.S. website company in Cambodia; Pheasa works in a call center as a troubleshooter; Phanara is sales manager and in charge of computers at a large café, and Leng Sopharoth is sales manager for a jewelry company. Average of salaries is $130 a month, a good start in Cambodia.
As these nine students have graduated and are moving on, we have a new class of college freshmen moving in. Over time, we have made our requirements for college sponsorship tougher and tougher. In spite of this, our English school under Mam Sary keeps cranking out students with higher and higher scores on their English exams. As a result, this year we have 13 students in our incoming freshmen college class.
Because Norton University is in the process of moving their campus out of the city center to a new campus with all new buildings, but quite far from the city, they have moved only their freshmen to the new campus this semester. We have been forced to rent a new townhouse or dorm to accommodate our incoming freshmen, boys and girls together, with Srey Vanny, one of our new college graduates as “house mother”. Once Norton is ready to move the upperclassmen to the new campus, we will have to rent another townhouse there and divide the men from the women once again, giving up our old dorms in the downtown area. It is too bad to have the freshmen distanced from the experienced upperclassmen presence, but we hope it will only be for this semester.
The new students are very excited about their brand new dorm—an indoor kitchen, and an indoor bathroom, something none had in the village of Roteang. They love the new stucco walls, and the real beds and space for all. The boys are limited to the first floor, and like American kids of long ago, they respect this rule.
Extending the cycle, we have interviewed 11 new 9th graders this fall. Although they stumble through their interviews in English, all come recommended as hard workers by Mam Sary and their English school teachers. All are excited by the opportunity of High School, and now maybe University, something no one could have envisioned just a few years ago.