It was an extraordinary experience for six CFC high school students and their mentor Vanthen Kim as they proudly represented Cambodia in the inaugural FIRST Global Robotics Challenge held in Washington, DC last month. Despite only introductory exposure to robotics and programming prior to the preparations for this event, Team Cambodia's hard work and resilience paid off with an impressive 22nd place finish among 157 international high school teams. In addition to smart strategic thinking during competition rounds, Team Cambodia scored many of their points thanks to their successful engineering. Their results exceeded all expectations, and CFC is incredibly proud of their efforts! To learn more about Team Cambodia, click here.
FIRST Global competition aims to ignite a passion for STEM among young people around the world as they collaborate to use science and technology to solve global problems. This year’s competition focused on access to clean water, and team robots were scored on their ability to purify contaminated water samples. Technical skills weren't the only focus of the week, as participants fostered new friendships and cultural awareness through encounters with teams from all over the world. In their competitive rounds, Team Cambodia worked alongside teams from Barbados, Guyana, Ecuador, Philippines, Norway, Germany, Peru, Georgia, Malta and Team Hope, a team of refugees.
After an exhilarating closing ceremony, the team celebrated with a Cambodian dinner hosted by Erik Bruner Yang and Seda Nak at their reknowned DC restaurant Maketto surrounded by dedicated CFC supporters. Over the course of the week, supporters showed up in force to support and congratulate our team. The cheering section included several members of CFC's Board of Directors and Advisory Council as well as dedicated volunteers. Thanks to the entire crew from Voice of America Khmer who reported on the team's journey. Heartfelt appreciation to everyone who supported and guided this team and made the entire experience such a resounding success.
Team Cambodia was fortunate to meet with the Honorable Chum Bunrong, Cambodian Ambassador to the US and Mexico(below left), who wisely advised that whatever they dream to be, they should aim high and dream to be the "prime minister of it". Touring Washington's famous sights, including specially arranged tours of the Library of Congress and the Air and Space Museum, and a final dinner at the home of Chapter Leader and Board Member Liz and Matt King completed a busy week which was certainly a life-changing experience for all involved.
Upon their return home, Team Cambodia was congratulated by family and friends, and even featured on the national news (below left). The team also proudly gave presentations to students and faculty members at both CFC high school campuses. No doubt, their stories inspired many of their peers!
Congratulations Team Cambodia! We are very proud of you!
Program Highlight: Career Preparation
Under the leadership of Program Manager Chandeth Doeurn, our Career Preparation Program equips CFC high school students with a post-graduate tool kit to help them access higher education or employment opportunities. The program directly affects all students from 10th to 12th grade attending Aranh Sakor and Bakong High School. In fact, CFC schools are among the few in Cambodia to benefit from focused preparation that includes a rigorous 10-week curriculum, assistance in finding scholarships and internships, speaker series, university visits, and career fairs.
Started in 2011, the Career Preparation Program has grown into a dedicated program that delivers strong results. The majority of CFC graduates have progressed to employment, higher education or vocational training. CFC continually modifies the curriculum to arm students with the most relevant skills to pursue jobs in new growth fields and to gain admittance to even more university programs. Plans are also underway to establish an alumni network and encourage mentoring of younger high school students.
One example of a successful post-graduate program is Sala Bai Hotel and Restaurant School which offers vocational training in culinary and hospitality careers. On July 20th, ten former CFC high school students completed the one-year training course and are now ready to gain employment or internship opportunities in the growing hospitality sector. (Several are pictured at left with Chandeth Voeurn.) Eleven more CFC students have been selected to study at Sala Bai following graduation from high school this upcoming fall.
After several years with World Vision International, Program Manager Chandeth Voeurn joined CFC in November 2017 with a strong passion for education and a desire to share his experiences with young Cambodians. Says Chandeth,
"I love the way CFC works. I use both my heart and hands to develop and implement programs that will keep students on track and focused on their career goals."
In addition to classroom instruction, Chandeth has led educational field trips to several university campuses and recently coordinated the annual Career Fair at Aranh and Bakong campuses where students were able to meet with representatives from a diverse array of public and private institutions, vocational centers and companies. To watch a brief video highlighting student observations from the Career Fair, please click here.
An important goal for CFC is to provide our students with the skills and knowledge for life after high school. The efforts of everyone involved with the Career Preparation program are helping make our students' professional dreams become reality. Thank you to all!
Service trip combines family and school efforts
In conjunction with fundraising efforts initiated by students at Skyline High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan, three families traveled from the Midwest to Siem Reap where they worked on a variety of projects funded through generous donations. Long-time CFC supporters David and Anne Wilhoit accompanied their daughter Amanda, founder of Skyline's student club on her fourth service trip to Siem Reap. They were joined by the Wilson Family of Naperville, Illinois who have supported CFC since their days in Singapore, and by new supporters Julie Hoover and her son, Grant, who attends Skyline High School.
The Skyline community spent a busy school year raising funds through a variety of fundraisers, including pizza parties, garage sales, and a "Christmas in Cambodia" event held at the Wilhoit home. Together with Theresa Wilson's TWIST yoga studio, they delivered donations of USB drives, headphone splitters, pencils and first aid supplies. Five bicycles will also be purchased with funds raised at a Spinning cycling event held in Ann Arbor.
In combination with these fundraising efforts, the three families mobilized over USD$13,000 in donations that were allocated towards a variety of projects: painting classroom furniture, paving work, construction of a new study hut, and supporting the maintenance of a water filtration system at one CFC school for a year. The group worked tirelessly over several days, and enjoyed reconnecting with CFC friends from past visits.
A highlight for all volunteers was working in ESL classrooms and participating in Food for Thought. As members of the Skyline CFC club, Amanda and Grant had previously joined a packing party in Michigan with Feed My Starving Children, a partner organization
that provides MannaPaks of fortified rice and protein to CFC schools.
First-time visitor Grant enjoyed “seeing how the children were so happy to be at school and respectful to their teachers. Volunteering for CFC was an incredible experience that I will relive over and over again. I hope to come back in the future!”
Thank you to Wilhoit Family, Wilson Family and Hoover Family!
Your dedicated support, generosity, and energy are all greatly appreciated!
Volunteer trips strengthen ties between students in Cambodia, Illinois and Switzerland
CFC is very fortunate to partner with schools around the globe who seek to engage their students in unique service learning opportunities that provide opportunities for connections with CFC students, and learnings that extend beyond their daily lives. We are grateful for their contributions and their lasting interactions. Thank you!
Returning to Siem Reap for their second service trip, students from Libertyville High School led by teacher Tiffany Owens teamed together on numerous project across multiple CFC campuses. Libertyville students had worked tirelessly during their school year to raise funds to support their trip, and all were excited to put their plans into action. Even the heavy rains couldn't dampen their spirits or energy levels!
Their projects included building a sustainable garden and compost area, paving walkways, painting a mural, and working with the students in the ESL classrooms.
Their participation with Food for Thought was especially meaningful because they had volunteered on multiple occasions in Illinois at packing parties with Feed My Starving Children (FMSC). Said teacher Tiffany Owens, "there are really no words to describe being able to see the full circle effects of not only packing the Manna-Paks for FMSC but also serving the food to these children and families in need."
The American School in Switzerland (TASIS) ~ Lugano, Switzerland
In early June, ten students and four chaperones from TASIS Switzerland traveled to Cambodia as part of the school's Global Service Program. The group divided their time between assisting with ESL activities at Spien Chreav Amelio and Aranh Primary School and painting desks and chairs at Bakong High School. They also participated in Food for Thought and enjoyed many interactions with CFC students of all ages, including singing pop songs, playing soccer game and spending one-on-one time with their pen pals. The trip left lasting impressions on everyone involved.
"The kids were full of excitement to learn. The appreciation they had for learning was incredible because going to school is a privilege for them. We’ve never understood the real value of education because we have never been without it."
~ Amelia Panella
Thank you TASIS!
About Us - Caring for Cambodia (CFC) is a non-profit, non-governmental, charitable organization that provides a free education for over 6,600 impoverished children in 21 schools spanning pre-school to high school. CFC professionally trains its teachers, and provides everything a child needs to succeed, including food, clean water, uniforms, school supplies, computers, transportation and basic healthcare. CFC relies heavily on global volunteer support which ensures that the majority of dollars raised directly support the education of a child.