Kimsorn Ngam is our new Community Hero in Psar Kralan, Cambodia. In this interview we introduce him and his learning center SmILe Academy.
Kimsorn, who are you?
I was born in a rural community family 85km north of Siem Reap town. I left my parents to find a better education in the city in 1996. At that time, there was no transportation service or road access as today. I walked to the city for 85km across some areas covered with jungle and landmines which made me scared.
I am the only one of my generation who graduated from school. I was inspired by my father who was a district chief of education youth and sport until he retired last year. He told me “Kimsorn, I trust you most among of the seven brothers and sisters to have success in education. If you die finding education this is better than living in poverty for the rest of the life.” He continued: “I will regard you as my hero”. This strongly inspires me up to date.
I met many challenges living away from my parents at the age of 12 but I never gave up pursuing my education. Even now I´m pursuing a master’s degree in TESOL at the University of South East Asia, Cambodia.
For the last 12 years, I have worked in the field of Education, Research, Monitoring,and Evaluation for an international community development organization. I was responsible for monitoring community development programs, conducted research on community development issues for the organization This Life Cambodia, and provided consultation services for institutional partners interested in conducting research about educational and human rights in Cambodia. This also included sharing research findings with local communities, organizational staff, the research community, and government officials and other partners’ institutions.
I have also evaluated life skill programs for young prisoners under 15 and have capacity building for school support committees to ensure they run their schools independently. In the field of social entrepreneurship I have worked with a family income generation project providing business support and microfinance to community members with guardians in prison and for Vocational Training Social Enterprise teaching vocational skills to at-risk youth. Based on the finding and recommendation I made, this NGO has expanded its’ programs.
Besides working for NGOs, I have worked as part-time English Program Supervisor at a private school called Asian Elementary and Secondary School in Siem Reap to apply the knowledge from my master degree in TESOL. According to my education and work experienced, I won a US government award for Young South East Asian Leadership Initiative in April 2016 that included a six-week trip to the United States where I met ex-president Barak Obama to exchanging leadership and economic empowerment experiences of Asia and the US.
I believe that because of my background I can lead a learning center to provide better education for children, youth, families and the community members to enable them to improve their lives and economic situations.
What is your vision for your learning center?
My vision is to make the learning center financially self-sustainable, to create a lasting positive impact and opportunities for children, youth, families and the community and to expand its programs to the communities in Cambodia.
Which courses and activities do you plan to offer?
Based on what we have analyzed as the community’s needs, the learning center will offer the following courses: English and Khmer pre-school, part-time English classes for young people and adults, IT classes and daycare for children. Due to the fact that Siem Reap is a world heritage area with many international visitors coming to see the temples this gives good job opportunities to those who have English and computer skills.
What will be the next steps after opening the learning center?
In order to achieve financial self-sustainability and impact in the community, I will build good relationships with partner institutions after opening the learning center. This way, I want to ensure I can generate more and more students. At the same time, I want to provide SmILe Academy’s teachers and staffs with ongoing trainings in providing professional services to ensure that the community will be satisfied with our services. Through networking with other BOOKBRIDGE learning centers and by keeping contact with the CAP10 participants, I hope to receive business and technical support.