A Few of Our Students – in Their Own Words
We invite you to meet a few of the young women who live and study at the Harpswell Foundation. Encouraged by their families and communities, teachers and mentors, these young women are seizing opportunities that were unimaginable just two decades ago. Over 60% of our students scored in the 99th percentile or higher on the National High School Exam. The majority of our students come from poor rural areas, and the main source of income for their families is farming. Over 83% are the first in their families to attend university.
I am lucky to be a part of Harpswell. I would use my career in the right way and benefit for society.
I am the oldest sister in my family and there are 4 members in my family. Nowadays I am supported by my mum. She is a garment worker working in Phnom Penh. She has supported me in every step with money and others in need. I am proud of myself to be her daughter.
Nowadays I am third year student at Royal University of Phnom Penh and majoring in BioChemistry. I want to work in food Laboratory because I enjoy studying it at school. In the future I want to pursue my Master’s Degree in Thailand with Food Microorganism.
Besides University, I am also a third year student at Harpswell Foundation Dormitory. This dorm is the greatest place of my life. It guides my life since the first day to city and knows what the world is. I would be a garment worker as my Mum, if I did not get chance to live here.
Most of girls can’t go to school because of their family’s condition. In my opinion, women around should go to school and do whatever they intend to. Beside girls themselves, their families have to push them to school, to get high education and escape from violence at home. In addition, girls should be encouraged to reach their passion. Girls should take a part in society and politics. I am strongly fascinated with Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi who is the hard working leader in Burma. I was motivated since I know about her background. She is a hard working leader to earn the democracy for her citizen. All in all, I am really satisfied about what I have nowadays. I enjoy life and thank for my beloved people around me. I am lucky to be a part of Harpswell. I would use my career in the right way and benefit for society.
University: Class of 2017, Royal University of Phnom Penh, Chemistry
My family supports all the children to access education even though their business is not big and just can afford our daily needs.
I am the second daughter among two daughters and younger brother. My mother works so hard in her jobs such as seller, house worker, and being a wonderful mother. She is really honest with others and family. For me, I learn something unique from her like friendliness, patience and honesty. I do remember all her advice.
My family had many financial problems so I have moved a lot. When I was 6 years old, my family moved from my hometown to the city. My parents, younger brother and I moved to my aunt’s house, and built a small house behind her house. My family support all the children to access education even though their business is not big and just can afford our daily needs.
When I was old enough in primary school, I saved money to buy a radio to listen to programs. I loved stories, news and popular songs program. I got to know different kinds of people around me who influence and encourage me to be more successful. I am a curious person who love to learn new things. When I was in grade seven, I had a great chance to be trained by Youth Council of Cambodia, YCC, a youth empowerment organization. I also got an enhanced education scholarship program for high school so I moved from family to my aunt’s house because it is near the high school. Coincidentally, in grade 11, I was trained by YCC again, so I was a member for three years. I participated in YCC programs such as youth annual conference, implementing a diversity of projects in rural areas, monthly and term training, and monthly community meeting with commune leaders. All of these are ingredients into my meaningful life. I have worked in rural areas and know a wonderful person who develops rural areas with his agronomy skills. His name is Yang Saing Koma. He was a founder of CEDAC organization and now a politician. He is my role model. I chose my major because of my own decision and my own visions to work in community and have a professional skill.
The most important expectation I have of the Harpswell Foundation is living in community like a family. I learn every day and challenge with my personality development. I am really satisfied with the Harpswell Foundation’s program. Leadership residents mean a lot to me. They are teachers, friends, mentors, consultants, motivators and also best friends. I learn their cultures which teach me to be more confident and independent. Some different cultures, I need to facilitate in Khmer and foreign culture. I do believe that foreign culture pushes me to be more developed like leading me to be more confident and thoughtful. Some old mindset of Khmer cultures are not appropriate for my generation.
University: Class of 2018, Royal University of Agriculture, Agronomy
I have not gotten married like my mother, because my parents realize how essential having an education clearly is. Education is the most crucial key towards success, power and improvement.
My family consists of my father, mother and little sister and myself. I am very close to all four family members. My relationship with my mother is stronger than others, because she was the first lady I saw when I opened my eyes. She is very understanding. That is why I can share everything with her, regardless if it is good or bad. When I am troubled, she always helps, supports and encourages me to solve it. I remember one sentence from her, “there is no task that we can not find the solution.” She phones me every day. Constantly, we talk about our family future and think about what task we will meet. Habitually, we deal with difficult situations and prepare ourselves with future issues. I adore her so much.
I am exactly different from my mother. She married when she was 19 years old. Actually, she is one who loved studying, but her parents and her brother did not support her. For me, I turn 19 years old soon and I am an Engineering student. I have not gotten married like my mother, because my parents realize how essential having an education clearly is. Education is the most crucial key towards success, power and improvement, which will help my life in the future. In addition, I could say because of Harpswell, I have become a brave girl, who dares to reject what I think is wrong and will stand by my opinion of speech.
Most of the girls [in my village] are garment workers, farmers, housewives, and so on. Some of them stay at home and become a housewife or help their parents. In addition, they do not have a chance to pursue their education in Phnom Penh because of the status of their family. I am an Engineering student at Institute of Technology of Cambodia. When I graduate with my bachelor’s degree, I hope that I will obtain the best job, which would be a staff member for a famous company in Cambodia. Then I would devote myself to become chief of staff or chief executive officer of one company. Substantially, I hope I will own a main company, which relates to my major and could assist Cambodia and others in the community. Along with this career, I hope I will be a chemistry teacher, because I love teaching and I want to share my skills to my next generation. I don’t want to hide my knowledge. If I have the chance, I will pursue a master’s degree in Japan.
Living in Harpswell, gives me the opportunity to know the most important girls in Cambodia who are smart, strong, loving, caring, and studious. Thus, I can connect with them. It will provide a lot of advantages for my future. The most important thing I hope to gain from Harpswell is to help develop my country, because Harpswell has provided essential skills for me to do so.
University: Class of 2018, Institute of Technology Cambodia, Engineering
I have a strong hope that I will bring all the knowledge and the unique experiences I gain from Harpswell to develop myself to be a good woman leader of Cambodia and contribute to build a better Cambodian society.
Most of the girls in my village were able to graduate from High School because my area is close to the school. However, some of them did not go for University and few of the girls went to University in the province. I also see that most of the girls got married and have a family.
I think the biggest problems facing Cambodian women today are equality and trafficking. Until today, women are still treated lower than man. The issue occurs from a small family up to the work place and even in government proportion. Women have little opportunity to access to education and being underestimated as a weak kind of human. Another issue of Cambodian women is that women are trafficked to work illegally overseas. They become a victim of the owner of the household and are not able to return back.
College is what exactly changed my life. Without college, I think I would be a girl who everyday stays at home, goes to market, does housework, takes care of my little brother, or even waiting to get married. In addition, I might have to do most of the things that my family expects me to do. I wish to continue my study abroad after graduating at United States to enhance my knowledge of another advanced academic system and exposing to a new universal environment with a different culture. I plan to pursue a career as a Project Manager in an International NGO based on community development or community issues.
Harpswell is my second home. The most important thing that I hope to gain from living here is “Leadership.” I am always pleased when I realize that I have changed myself through Harpswell, a leadership center where I can cultivate my potential through all leadership classes that the center provides. I have a strong hope that I will bring all the knowledge and the unique experiences I gain from Harpswell to develop myself to be a good woman leader of Cambodia and contribute to build a better Cambodian society.
University: Class of 2017, Zaman University, International Relations
Compared to other girls in my village, I got a better opportunity because there are only two girls in my age who have graduated from high school. I hope to obtain [a degree] in Clinical Psychology and work in the laboratory.
I have five brothers and two sisters. They all get married and work as farmers in the village. My oldest brother is 38 years old. I am the youngest. Nowadays there are only four people in the family: my parents (both 58), my divorced sister (32) and my little nephew (3).
Compared to other girls in my village, I got a better opportunity because there are only two girls in my age who have graduated from high school. Another girl is training to be a Japanese tour guide at Seim Reap. The rest of us are working as cleaners, workers for a construction, massagers, sellers, waitress, and baby watchers etc. The way my parents treat us is the same, but because of the economic status, almost of my siblings had to drop school to help the family. My brother before me did not finish secondary school and the rest of them did not complete primary school. So none of them have work at any official place.
I hope to obtain [a degree] in Clinical Psychology and work in the laboratory. In order to be professional in my career of course I want to continue studying abroad in European countries especially England. And so far this year I have been interning for the Children for Change Cambodia (CCC) for two and a half months from February to the middle of April. I was allowed to participate in teaching English to the kids aged 7 to 14. I am glad to be a Harpswell student. I learn how to live communally and experience the amazing sisterhood. Moreover, I learned how to open myself to see and explore things in life in order to improve myself. So the important thing I hope the gain from [living] here is to be a potential and very strong lady.
I want to see Cambodia develop in each sector with a great woman leader and women have voice to decide things.