As the first fellows for our learning center in Tonloab, Cambodia, Ruby and Alex from Belgium will support the learning center in the next months. Their goal is to make a difference and create considerable change. And it seems that they are having a good start!
Excited about their new once-in-a-lifetime experience in an unfamiliar and challenging yet enabling environment in rural Cambodia, Alex and Ruby from Belgium arrived in Cambodia on 4th June. With the assistance from Yourngchantreara “Ra” Sao, BOOKBRIDGE Country Manager Assistant for Cambodia currently being in charge of the BOOKBRIGDGE Fellowship Program, they travelled right away to Tonloab BOOKBRIDGE Learning Center where they met Vannak Pen, the Head of Learning Center. They were also welcomed by the teachers and enthusiastic students. After that, they had a tour around the center and town to get to know locals, the region and its infrastructure. Knowing where facilities, shops, markets and hospitals are and how routine activities work makes it easier to integrate into the community.
On the morning on June 5, Ruby and Alex together with Vannak Pen and the staff members of the learning center had the opportunity to attend an expectation workshop conducted and facilitated by Ra. In the workshop they discussed in-depth the learning center’s progress to date and its gaps and needs. They also explored possible ways to fill the remaining gaps and to meet the identified needs in light of the fellows’ knowledge, skills, experiences and aspirations. The fellows had a chance to set their expectations, goals, and next steps for the following weeks. However, their goals and action plan have yet to be finalized.
In the afternoon, Ruby and Alex got to know community life in rural Cambodia: Khmer cultural and religious sensitivities, norms, and traditions as well as social expectations and basic laws and everything else important to live with their new community. The fellows were very much captivated by the facts unusual to them; they asked really good questions, and received comprehensive and informative answers. They now have a clear picture of their future daily life in the community and how not to get in conflict with community norms. They also received sources for further information on Cambodia’s development context and issues.
In the evening, Ruby and Alex together with Ra attended some of the English and IT classes of the learning center to get a first impression about the educational offerings. They now have received a lot of input and insights and got motivated for their tasks. We are looking forward to working with them and hope that they will achieve real impact in Tonloab!