Dream Officer Mara preparing to film her lesson
Dear PEPY Community,
The PEPY team is very grateful to you all for supporting our work, ensuring that rural Cambodian youth are able to continue their education and have financial security during these challenging times. For those of you who do not already receive regular updates from us, we transitioned to online teaching in March for our Learning Center and began providing regular online video sessions for our high school Dream students in May.
In the Learning Center, we provide English classes via Zoom to our students on Monday-Friday and provide ICT sessions once a week via Zoom or through pre-recorded training videos. Each Learning Center student has been provided a tablet and funds for internet cards so that they can study from home. Despite transitioning to social distance learning, we were able to facilitate 2 meaningful exchanges over the last few months:
Packard Collegiate Institute’s Photography Project: Different Ships Same Storm
7 of PEPY’s scholars took part in a photography and writing project with youth from multiple countries including the United States, Israel, and multiple African countries. Each week they would submit photos that communicated how they are feeling during COVID, how they imagine their futures and sharing their culture and daily lives with each other. All participants were able to comment on each other’s pictures and Packard hosted group video calls for them to meet face to face. Our group loved this project and having the opportunity to share their art after several of them had lost their jobs. This project gave them a much-needed outlet. In the next future, Packard will be publishing the photos and the youths’ stories in a book and we look forward to sharing the finished product.
If you want to learn more about the students who participated in this project or see the student’s photos you can read our blog post on the subject here.
6th Annual Irish Exchange:
For several years now, 2 PEPY staff and 2 students have had the incredible opportunity to go to Ireland for 2-3 weeks to visit our partner schools and participate in a homestay to experience Irish culture. Then, Irish teachers come to Cambodia for 3 weeks to work in collaboration with our teachers and learn from our students. This year, PEPY was unfortunately not able to visit Ireland, but in July, Irish teachers Micheál, Aoife, Jenny, & Áine were at least able to facilitate most of the exchange online. We appreciate them being so flexible and enthusiastic despite the circumstances.
For our Dream Management Project, the Dream team has been producing weekly content for grades 10-12 and uploading them to our YouTube channel. They work in partnership with the high school teachers to connect students to our video lessons and homework. Reaching our Dream students has been incredibly challenging during these times because only around half of them have access to a phone or computer (and even fewer youths’ families have the money to spend on internet cards). As a result, the majority of rural youth have not been able to access our courses or the government-issued lessons online and are falling behind their city-based counterparts.
On our part, we are doing everything we can to encourage safe learning opportunities and talk to local government, but recognize this is a national issue. Even our Learning Center students, who have access to our tablets and internet cards, often experience connection issues and electricity challenges that impact their learning.
Our scholars are all experiencing the crisis differently. Some universities moved to online classes quickly, so they could continue their courses online, while some schools only made the transition recently. PEPY scholars receive monthly stipends from us to access the internet to continue their studies. As the economy worsens, scholars and alumni are losing their jobs (approximately 25% of our alumni/scholars are in and out of work although the rate changes weekly as businesses close and we find job opportunities for our youth). Our Scholarship team works overtime to help scholars and alumni find new work and the stipends give unemployed scholars the opportunity to stay in the city while they search for employment.
Lastly, PEPY has been responding to the crisis by providing emergency care packages to scholars and Dream students’ families who are food insecure as well as working in partnership with selected families to establish gardens and chicken coups in several villages in our target areas. We hope to combat food shortages in rural communities before they are expected to fully hit at the end of this year.
None of this would be possible without your incredible generosity and we look forward to giving you updates in the near future. If you have any questions or want to learn more about any specific project we welcome you to contact and/or follow us here.
Irish teacher Aine in the Irish Teacher Exchange
One of our first chicken coops
Student group in Learning Center presenting work
Scholars starting work at a new job in July