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SHE-CAN Scholar’s Take the Lead project, a seminar on college life, draws 300+ attendees – by Sopharoth (Rosie) Ith

SHE-CAN Scholar’s Take the Lead project, a seminar on college life, draws 300+ attendees – by Sopharoth (Rosie) Ith

On Saturday, May 6, I initiated my Take the Lead project at my former high school (Presh Sisowat) I named my project “Better Path for Our Next Generation” and hosted a seminar that provided tips and guidance to students who planned on attending a university after high school. 300+ participants attended my seminar; it was an incredible turnout! The four areas I focused on included: expectations, obstacles, tips and preparations for university. 
I held the seminar in Khmer language and invited university students to participate as guest speakers. The speakers I selected were outstanding students in their universities who I believed would give the participants amazing tips on how to succeed in their studies.

​I decided to host the seminar because I recognize the shortage of available help for students when it comes to preparing for university life. Since Cambodia used to experience the Khmer Rouge Regime, when educated people were killed, Cambodia’s now a country where not many people receive enough education. While only 40% of the population can complete high school, university has become less important. Thus, there are only small amounts of resources available for students to research what it’s like at universities.

A similar seminar is done annually by a group of university students. However, participants have to pay for the tickets which isn’t always accessible for all students. Knowing this I made my seminar free! More importantly, it was held in Khmer language so that regardless of rich or poor those who could or couldn’t speak English would be able to receive the information.

To make the contents of my seminar more relevant and reliable, I created a survey that asked several university students to answer some questions and provide tips they would give to others. With the information I collected from the survey, I conducted more research before presenting my findings in my seminar.

I’ve learned a lot from the project. First, I learned how important help is when everything gets messy. Since there were a lot of participants, I wasn’t able to handle the crowd’s attention well. However, after receiving help from my friends, I was able to calm everyone down and make them sit in their given seats. I also learned that everything doesn’t always go as planned so having a backup plan is important. During the seminar, some participants got bored of the speeches and they started to talk rather than listen. This frustrated me the most, so I decided it’d be a good idea to take a short break and asked them to play games for a few minutes. This allowed them to refresh their minds, and afterwards they were able to concentrate until the end of the seminar.

Eventually, I realized that in order to make the project sustainable, I needed to make the information presented during the seminar accessible to students from other schools, as well as other generations. So I created a blog that covered all the information and tips, similar to what was given in the seminar, in hopes that the knowledge will spread out to more than just the hundreds of participants that attended my seminar.

Back when I was a high school student, one of my dreams was to eventually give back to my high school and community. Through my Take the Lead project, not only did I learn new information beyond what’s available in school but I fulfilled that dream!