Cambodian schools have remained in session during these summer months. Our classrooms have been bustling with robust and engaging lesson plans. Our staff has been diligently working on development and delivery of key programs. Our campuses have benefited from the work of many enthusiastic volunteers, and our entire community enjoyed a visit from our founder Jamie Amelio. As schools in Cambodia enter their final month of this academic year, we proudly share some highlights from the third quarter.
Thank you for your continued support!
Summer visit from Founder Jamie Amelio
CFC Founder and CEO Jamie Amelioreturned to Siem Reap in July. During her stay, she met with administrators, teachers and student groups of all ages, and joined in the team's review of successes and challenges of the 2015-2016 academic year and areas of renewed focus for next year.
In the photographs below, Jamie greets students at a local public school, congratulates former Amelio School students who earned their teacher training certificates, and shares a moment with Country Director & School Superintendent Ung Savy.
A primary objective of Jamie's trip was to assess what physical improvements are needed at our schools in an effort to get 'back to the basics'. For the past few years, CFC has focused on building our human capital and delivering 21st-century skills to our students and staff members. We have achieved significant success and growth in both of these areas, however, after almost fourteen years in operation, it is time to revisit the quality of our infrastructure so that it matches the quality of our curriculum and teaching. During her visit, Jamie and the in-country team assessed the state of our facilities and developed a long-term plan to fully outfit our campuses through clean-up, repairs, and new equipment.
Jamie was joined by three of her children and several longtime CFC supporters from Singapore and Austin, Texas ~ Channy Seour, Alex Tan, and Savy and Kang Buoy. Traveling with the group was Steve Adler, the mayor of Austin, Texas, and his wife, Diane Land, who toured CFC schools for the very first time. (At left, the group poses with administrators and students in front of the Aranh Sakor High School.)
On her departure, Jamie reflected "it is always great to share what's happening afar with your own neighbors, particularly those so supportive of CFC. I remain incredibly proud of the commitment of our CFC team and the excellent education delivered at our schools".
Until next time Jamie!
Health screenings span five schools
CFC's Health Education Committee completed a record number of screenings during their August trip with over 1700 students assessed for vision and nutrition (BMI) at five different school campuses. Nineteen students were recommended for additional vision examinations, and ten students required follow-up for nutrition needs. Committee Chair Barbara Levy was joined by CFC nursing staff and four volunteers from the International Medical Clinic (IMC) in Singapore, including General Manager Elizabeth Cowle.
Screening results are required to be immediately input into our health record system to ensure consistent monitoring of student health levels. During this trip, the Cambodian staff members demonstrated a new ability to work with the spreadsheet, resulting in an even more productive trip for all involved. Well done, team!
The group's visit concluded at Aranh Primary School with an informative community presentation on dengue fever and distribution of donated hygiene items to community attendees.
Thank you Health Team and IMC!
CFC campuses are turning 'green'
Since the beginning of the year, CFC has participated in two workshops offered by Plastic Free Cambodia, an organization focused on moving away from plastic dependency. Recycling efforts have already been practiced at CFC schools through instruction and on-site recycling bins, but working with Plastic Free Cambodia can only help our schools improve their recycling efforts and reduce their use of plastic materials. For the month of July, the organization launched an international campaign called "Plastic Free July" and CFC took many steps to join their efforts and use the opportunity to create interdisciplinary student projects.
Career Prep students were actively involved in drafting presentations to share with their school communities, families, and even local business communities. Using their computer and public speaking skills, they made an impressive team! Teachers and staff got involved to lead education sessions and school clean-ups, and even incorporated plastic recycling into some lesson plans. For example, some ICT classes got involved by experimenting with PhotoShop to illustrate the negative effects of plastic on the environment.
As part of the main July campaign, CFC students also displayed recycled art and entered photographs into weekly contests. One of the winning photos (above left) shows Amelio School kindergarten students taking the lead on recycling at their schools. Even staff members have changed their ways and are now committed to using more reusable water bottles and food containers to limit waste (above right).
Reflecting on her collaboration with CFC, Sarah Rhodes, founder of Plastic Free July/Cambodia says: "I'm so proud to work with CFC. After just two workshops with the management team, they showed tremendous passion for the environment. They are the reason we can make the right changes to protect the environment here in Cambodia."
Well done everyone! What great progress!
Conference highlights strengths of CFC's ESL program
In late May, CFC hosted a two-day conference focused on ESL instruction at the primary and secondary school levels. Led by Curriculum Specialist Whitney Szmodis and ESL Program Manager Kol Sinat, the conference was well attended by representatives from The MoneyGram Foundation, the Ministry of Education, teachers and educators from Ministry schools, and local NGOs from Siem Reap and Battambang provinces. Topics addressed technology integration in the ESL classrooms, student-centered learning and classroom management techniques, lesson and resource planning, and transitions from primary to secondary ESL curriculum.
Funded in large part by The MoneyGram Foundation, CFC's ESL program is unique for two reasons: first, its emphasis on project-based English learning curriculum; and second, with a new pilot program, students at CFC schools begin learning English in second grade compared with seventh grade in government-run schools. CFC believes that this approach and early emphasis will increase our students' employability as they graduate high school. Moving forward, the goal is to expand the pilot program and to incorporate material from other courses (ie. math, science and technology) into the program curriculum.
Summer interns make lasting contributions
CFC welcomed several university student interns to our schools over the summer months. Our in-country staff was pleased and appreciative of their contributions, and we hope they returned home energized by and reflective of their experience. Thank you all!
Yale-NUS (Singapore) ~For the second time, CFC welcomed two university students from Yale-NUS, a liberal arts college established as a collaboration between Yale University and the National University of Singapore. Each invested two months of their time and talent to work on Career Preparation and Gender Equity projects.
Wei Han Pang(back row, far left) assisted Career Preparation Program Manager Douern Chandeth. He researched ways to update CFC's curriculum to include experiential learning and models for leadership and teamwork. To augment post-graduate resources, he collected information on scholarship, work-study and vocational training opportunities.
"My biggest learning from the trip was how to serve and teach even when language is a barrier. I learned that love speaks the loudest and shines through our daily interactions. I know that Chandeth is filled with love for the students and is willing to go the extra mile to serve them and help them prepare for the future."
Tan Yan Ru worked with Program Manager Chhum Ratha on a variety of Gender Equity projects such as designing curriculum topics, facilitating meetings with student representatives, and developing classroom display materials. She also researched local social work support services for those students in need.
"My proudest moment was watching the students grow in their confidence and self-worth. I not only saw students pledging to love and accept themselves, but to be advocates for their rights and the rights of others in their communities."
Lehigh University (Pennsylvania) ~ Continuing our six-year partnership with Lehigh University, four Lehigh students spent seven weeks at CFC schools as part of the Iacocca Internship Program which provides participants the opportunity to aid in the development of sustainable education for the children of Cambodia. Internship projects were focused on ESL, gender equity, art instruction and local fundraising. The interns are photographed below with Lehigh Professor Dr Sothy Eng, CFC staff member Sinat Kol, Whitney Szmodis, and visiting volunteer, Spencer Sasso.
Corina Fitzgerald(seated in middle) developed a two-year curriculum for the ESL pilot program which begins instruction at a younger age (previously ESL did not start until fourth grade at CFC schools).
Kelly Grace(seated at left) worked to strengthen the gender equity curriculum and develop a strategy for collaborating with primary school teachers and incorporating gender issues into CFC's Early Childhood Education program.
Chelsea Cooler (back row, second from left) worked with secondary school ESL teachers to create resources and strategies for their ESL classrooms. Harrison Birabaharan(back row, second from right) helped to organize fundraising events at the newly opened Bridge Art Gallery and worked with CFC art students.
Highlights of our volunteer service trips
Over the summer months, CFC welcomed visitors from all over the globe who traveled to Siem Reap to tour our campuses, complete volunteer projects, donate materials, and interact with our students through Food for Thought. We are forever grateful for your time and contributions, and we hope you found the experience equally impactful. Thank you!
The American School in Switzerland (TASIS) ~ Lugano, Switzerland
Following Jamie's visit to their campus in May, eleven TASIS students and three chaperones traveled from Switzerland to Siem Reap in early June to participate in a service learning project as part of their school's Global Service Program. The students had spent the year studying the history and culture of Cambodia, and CFC's work in education. During their time with CFC, they worked hard to help construct a brick wall on the Aranh campus that will improve the safety of the school grounds. They also spent time assisting with the ESL program, participating in Food for Thought, and taking time to tour Siem Reap's beautiful temples. Thank you TASIS!
"I was particularly impressed with the students' learning of English and the realization that it would help create options for their futures...their dreams for what they would like to be in the future now include 'doctor', 'lawyer' and 'teacher'."
~ Kerry Venchus, Chaperone
Libertyville High School ~ Libertyville, Illinois
Members of the Libertyville High School (LHS) CFC Club led by chaperone Tiffany Owens volunteered their time in June on a paving project that transformed an area marked by mud and potholes into a paved lot for bicycles and cars. Hot temperatures and pouring rain didn't dampen their spirits or momentum, and the group still had energy to take on CFC students in a soccer match. Their trip was also marked by temple tours, Food for Thought, ESL training, and a village ramble scavenger hunt with Aranh high school students.
They were joined by a second group of Libertyville CFC supporters the same week. Led by Christian Underwood and comprised of students who had participated in prior LHS trips and their younger siblings, this group of enthusiastic volunteers worked on a paving project, ESL training, and a sports court at the Bakong Motwani Junior High campus.
"The trip was life changing for me and my students. We shared great conversations about appreciating the lives we have in the US and how important it is to give back to others. These Cambodian children, their smiles, their laughter, their positive spirits...they own so little and have such joy and vivacity. Truly an inspiration!"
~ Tiffany Owens, Chaperone
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.