Tep Sothy (right) is our Community Hero in Tani, Cambodia. In March, we opened our sixth Cambodian learning center in Tani that seeks to serve the educational needs in the community. In this interview, we would like to introduce Sothy to you.
Sothy, who are you? Please tell us about you and your background?
Before I lived in Tani, I lived in Kampot provincial town. In 2002 I decided to move the whole family to Tani town because I had to implement the tasks for my job at ECYC. Here, I saw that the people in this community are different from other districts in the province of Kampot because they prefer to learn rather than to do any other business. They also really want their children to be officers in offices rather than the workers in on the fields.
You see, these were the reasons why I decided to move a family of five, my wife and my three children (two daughters and one son) to Tani. Another important reasons was that I don’t want my children to the extremely hard work on the fields as I had to do when I was young.
Why did you decide to apply at BOOKBRIDGE as Community Hero?
During the severe civil war in Cambodia between 1989 and 1992, my parents decided to send me to a refugee camp that had been set up by UNBRO and UNHCR along the Thai border. This way, they hoped to give me a better chance by attending English courses. I Therefore I became a professional of English as what I wanted to be was teaching the English language. I really want to teach the next generation this international language in order to light the way for them to get to know the world through reading, speaking, writing and listening.
You see, what I detest is the ignorance which covered Cambodia after The Angkorean Period that made Cambodia as well as Cambodians fell into excessive cheating and suffering. I founded a school but had difficulties to expand it and to meet the community needs. When I saw how BOOKBRIDGE supported Cambodian learning centers in a cooperational way together with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and the Cambodian Scouts as well as local communities I decided to apply as Community Hero. This way, I hoped to have better chances for me to develop my obligations to serve Cambodian society.
Which offerings (courses, activities) do you plan for your learning center?
As an English teacher and IT as well, I always had the plan to offer English and IT courses to the people in my local community. I want to offer as many classes as possible by organizing comfortable and fully-equipped rooms with qualified teachers that commit themselves to serve without complaining.
In the future I want to work on challenges like lacks in public transportation as well as curriculum updates through self-development and internal and external cooperations. At this point I would like to confirm that we still need more human resource support such as management skills and teaching techniques and donations to develop our learning center.
Looking back at your preparations for the opening of the learning center in March, what was the most difficult challenge?
We were under high time pressure. We had to decide which tasks had to be done, which were the most important ones and how we wanted to do them. It was also difficult to work with people with different backgrounds without training in advance. Also, it turned out that the local situation were different from the task conditions.
What were be the most important tasks for your first months as Community Hero?
To get information related to the tasks and to contact the contractors as well as comparing the local teamwork for prices and qualities in order to push the process of renovating the building forward. I also invested much time in finding helpful people.