Thursday, April 27, 2017

Parental Pride: Quality Education at JWOC for a Better Future

Parents will do almost anything to give their children the best possible start so they can succeed later in life, and Cambodian parents are no different. However, many parents in Cambodia are left frustrated as they cannot afford the extra tuition that is often necessary to give their children a quality education; so enrolling them in JWOC's Free Classes program can ensure their children get the quality education they deserve.
To find out how the Free Classes was helping JWOC families, we caught up with a parent to find out how her daughter studying in the program was impacting their life...

Please introduce yourself and your daughter.
My name is Tola, I am 32 years old. I have worked at local hotel as a cleaner for about 2 years; I am divorced and now live with my daughter, Vichika, who is 7 years old. She studies in grade 2 of Primary school in the mornings and at JWOC in the afternoons. We live in Svay Dongkom commune, Siem Reap town (approximately 2km from JWOC).  Every day I go to work at 2pm, returning home at 11pm. When I am working, I leave Vichika with her grandmother.

How did you first hear about JWOC? Why did you decide to bring Vichika to learn at JWOC?
I first heard about JWOC when another parent told me about the organisation. Her daughter shares the same grade as Vichika, she told me about JWOC and about how they help poor students, she told me that JWOC’s teachers are qualified and provided students with a good education. I was motivated to take Vichika to study at JWOC. This was great timing as I had been looking a free school for Vichika because I could not afford to pay for private schools.

How long has Vichika been studying at JWOC? Have you seen an improvement in her studies since she started?
My daughter has been studying at JWOC now for about two years. She makes me very proud, I speak no English but even I can learn a lot from her, now I can understand common words and phrases and communicate in funny ways with her. She has made big improvements in her English!
What do you think about the learning process and JWOC?
I love the ways that JWOC teaches Vichika. It has one of the highest reputations as an English school in Siem Reap, with well-trained teachers building the children’s confidence to speak, think creatively and build good morals. JWOC is playing very important role in helping to develop the local community. This is especially helpful for parents like me (a single-parent), who spend most of their time working to support our children. JWOC is like my daughter’s second home, I feel safe when she is there.
In your opinion, how do you think learning at JWOC helped prepare Vichika for state schooling?
I can see that Vichika is a very fast learner, she has not only learnt new English at JWOC but also is now more creative. She can use these experiences and does well at state school. JWOC provides a good model for the children learning there, they understand the importance of education and how it will help them in the future.

As a parent, how important is it for Vichika to obtain a quality education?
Education is very important for my child, I have very little knowledge to give her. I have very little education and, as a result, I do not earn a high salary. However, quality education is now required to get a good job and succeed. If I encourage my daughter to study hard but the quality of education she gets is still low it will make it much harder for her. There are so many challenges and competition in the job market so it’s really important that she can get the qualifications and find a good job. I put my hope in JWOC, and I am so proud that my girl not only studies English, but that now she can use her English to give herself a better life in the future.

How do you think Vichika’s education at JWOC will help her in the future?
I often talk to Vichika and say ‘child, if you study hard the teachers or staff at JWOC will choose you to work there when you grow up, so please study hard’, this would be my dream for her. It acts as inspiration for her and it gives her the motivation to study hard. In the future, I would like her to continue her studies and work in company or organisation like JWOC. JWOC is the critical place to sharpen her English skills and other skills like IT. I would like her to study at JWOC till she finishes all courses if allowed.
Credit goes to JWOC scholarship students Yeat Sean and Thaireth Sob for their part in conducting and translating the interview.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

CSEF 2017: JWOC takes STEM to Phnom Penh!

By Sarah Thompson, Education and Volunteer Manager
During the days of March 9th-11th myself, Nesa, and our two JWOC scholarship student Science teachers Rit and Thoeu went to Phnom Penh to represent JWOC in the 3rd annual Cambodian Science and Engineering Festival (CSEF)! This year was quite different to previous years as it was held in the National Stadium so the crowds were larger and there were many performing acts to keep the exhibitors and the visitors entertained. There were over 23,000 attendees at the stadium including schools, other NGOs, and families with young kids. Our goal when attending the CSEF was to share the gift of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) to Cambodian youth while giving our staff and students the chance to gain new ideas and perspectives from other organizations in attendance. For the three full days, we showed 4 experiments and had our microscopes and Samsung tablets full of interactive Science apps on display.
On the opening day, we displayed the ‘Oobleck’ - a much loved experiment from last year. Oobleck is a messy fluid-like substance that can be a solid or liquid depending on the amount of pressure applied to it. Adults and children are always amazed by it and call it ‘magic’ even though it’s a simple mixture of borax, water, cornstarch, and food color. Another popular experiment was ‘Galaxy Slime’ a gooey, glittery, multicolored substance that the younger students loved to make with us at the booth. We also show-cased flowers and cabbage in colored water to show how the capillaries absorb the liquid and change colors according to the food coloring. The second and third day we showed our ‘Magic Milk’ experiment where we used a Q-tip and dropped small amounts of soap into a plate of milk dyed by food coloring. The soap would cause the colors to separate like magic which was really surface tension at work because milk has fat in it and reacts to the soap. The students really enjoyed these short experiments as they were able to do them themselves and get their hands dirty!
After they watched or helped create the experiments, the visiting crowds enjoyed looking at plant and animal cells through our microscopes and using our tablets to play with our apps. We got many questions and smiles from our experiments and Rit, Thoeu and Nesa did wonderful jobs explaining the concepts in both Khmer and English. In order to see all that CSEF had to offer, we took turns walking around the event, networking with other organizations, and taking pictures. Rit was even asked to help out at the British Embassy’s booth where he performed a home-made well experiment using balloons and a water bottle, it was a success judging from the large crowds around the booth. As this was Rit’s first visit to the CSEF representing JWOC he was delighted to experience it and shared some of his thoughts: “This is the first year I went to join the event and I am so happy to have worked as a team with everyone. I learned a lot from the event and enjoyed telling visitors about our experiments. I remembered experiments other booths displayed so I can show them to my students in my science class and I hope they will enjoy it and learn from them.”
The trip to CSEF solidified our commitment to STEM at JWOC and gave us inspiration for our own Science classes as well as for a local Science fair we hope to hold later in the year. It was amazing to see Cambodian youth get excited about Science and technology and learn through hands-on activities.  Using simple ingredients for our experiments, we hoped to inspire and push kids to take a more active role in Science learning at school and at home. JWOC is proud to have shared our Science capabilities and experiments with thousands of children and adults who visited our booth and we are excited for what next year’s CSEF has to bring!


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