Some of you may remember the young student that we wrote about in 2011 named Sopeak. We will not repeat all the previous information of this inspirational young person but will attach the original story and photo if anyone would like to revisit it, or in case you are new to our contacts have not received the original email. (PDF of original story)
Sopeak graduated from high school with good marks and started university in September. For years she rode her bike long distances and for many hours each day to and from school rain or shine, focused on her dream and goal, an education. Now that she is older and can live alone we wanted to save her the long ride into town from the countryside on her bike and allow her to use that commute time to study. So she lives in a room that KIDS has rented for her in town and we provide her with a $30 a month living stipend to add to the bit of money that her parents can afford to give her.
|Smart Kids promoting education through village|
We have another program of twenty rural children, called Smart Kids, that we sponsor; these young people are monitored by our program manager Hak. Every Sunday Hak heads out to the village where the children live and go to school to teach English and support them in their studies. Sopeak has been going with Hak and assisting him to teach English and she speaks to the children about the value of education and staying in school. Recently Hak and Sopeak, together with all the students of Smart Kids, walked through the village one afternoon with banners promoting education. Sopeak is a great role model and example to other young female students and she will pay particular attention and focus on keeping and recruiting more girls to stay in school.
From the very minute that we met Sopeak about six years ago we were struck by the clarity of her english. Many rural children speak some english but they tend to have heavy accents and can be hard to understand as they mostly learn from other Khmer teachers. Sopeak had an english teacher from America for a short time and with her diligence her pronunciation was amazing.
Recently we took Sopeak to the Australian Centre For Education (ACE). ACE is an international standard english school where all the teachers are from engish speaking countries. Each prospective student must take an entrance exam to rank their skills and determine the grade level that they will study at. Sopeak being from a rural village where education is scarce has worked very hard and taken advantage of the opportunity that your support through KIDS has provided for her in both primary and high school.
|Sopeak at ACE with Level 6 lesson book|
As she walked down the hall to take the 45-minute exam we sat with with Hak and waited. While we discussed different education ideas Hak told us that many students who have lived in the town of Siem Reap with much easier access to education, and after graduating from university with a BA, will only rank at maybe a level 5 on their ACE entrance exam. When Sopeak came out of the exam she said that it was very difficult, and was not sure how she did...a few minutes later the examiner returned with a beaming smile and showed us her results...level 6…our jaws dropped collectively. A remarkable achievement considering she has a hearing disability, came from an isolated village and up until an hour before the exam had no idea that we were taking her to ACE so she had no chance to prepare or study.
As Sopeak’s dream of completing a university education moves ever forward to reality she is without a doubt proof that with persistence, dedication and perseverance one can achieve difficult goals.
Happy New Year, may your dreams and goals come to reality in 2014.
All the best,
Adrianne and Rick