Some weeks ago, was the French Week in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Being French, I took this opportunity to check out the weekly events offered. Plus, it took place at the Raffles Grand Hotel, one of the oldest hotels, hence I couldn’t miss on this opportunity.

Now that it has been established that I went there to satisfy my curiosity, let me depict the area. The exhibit hall was set up in the Garden of the Grand Hotel, an Eiffel Tower was even built in the Royal Garden and built a bridge aptly named « le Pont des Arts »! Everything was made to make us think we were in France with a slight twist of Cambodian design.

To my own surprise, I learned a lot about the commercial links between France and Cambodia, and also how many French businesses are established either in Siem Reap or Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital.

Another surprise on that day, was that I met Sophoas – she’s a young JWOC Scholarship Student who studies English Literature at The University of South East Asia in Siem Reap.

The reason, I wanted to report on our meeting at the Siem Reap French Week, is because I’m amazed at the scheduling of the JWOC Scholarship Students.

Indeed, bear with me:

Every weekday, Sophoas goes to University from 7:00 am till 10:30 am, then she goes to work from 11:00 till 19:00. She’s also dedicating two days of an already quite packed schedule, to JWOC Sunday and Monday where she teaches English as an Assistant English Teacher! I asked her when does she have free time to write essays and reports, her answer was: “the rest of the time!!!”

Intrigued and impressed by her capacity to compartmentalize her world and dedicate time to studying, working and volunteering; I decided to report a 360 degrees testimony of her life.

She’s a Seller for Eric Raisina,  a French – Madgascan designer of textiles and clothes. He’s working with silk and there is actually a lot of raw material produced everywhere in Cambodia. So, it makes perfect sense to have a workshop and showroom here in Siem Reap.

Sophoas is in charge of the products, to arrange clothes in a beautifully and artistic ways in order for them to be appealing for a clientele that comes from all over the world or expatriates. Take charge for stocks and inventory. She’s praised by her manager for her patience with the customers and for being a great seller.

Of course, her English skills are valuable for selling and interacting with any customers, or even during the Siem Reap French Week, to interact with the models presenting at the Fashion Show.

At JWOC, the staff describe her as accountable, has a willingness to achieve all her tasks, and has friendly rapport with all involved around her. So much more than a scholarship, at the end of her Bachelor, she will be equipped with hard skills, owned from her studies and professional experiences. She’s an accomplished young adult with a bright future ahead of her. Even though her heart is set on teaching now, still she will have some set of skills valuable for both private and public sector.

Sophoas lives in Siem Reap with her sister, and has two older brothers and sisters. Even though, they didn’t have the opportunity to pursue their education through University, they’re supporting her and pushing her to apply herself.  All her life (form Grade 1 till High School), she has been a bright student and received some help i.e. uniform, books from this organization called The Global Child  . The interesting thing about this organization is that the Manager is a JWOC alumni too, and it’s no wonder how Sophoas became aware of JWOC scholarship through this role model!

This last discovery of her personal connection to a previous JWOC alumni makes this story full circle and I wish Sophoas every success in the future.

This was a guest post written by Joelle Millery while she was volunteering at JWOC.

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