Salen Nhean recently returned home to Cambodia after graduating from the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in Business Technology Administration. Learn why she took a leap of faith and joined Teach For Cambodia as a 2019 Fellow.
In grade 12, my English teacher read a book review I had written about a human trafficking survivor who rose to advocate and fight against human trafficking in Cambodia. In my reflection, I wrote about how powerless I felt in this complex issue. After my teacher read it, she asked if I’d like to start a fundraising club to support an NGO working on this issue and offered to be my club mentor. At the time, I was not confident that I could run a club but her encouragement motivated me to give it a shot. I am glad I took the chance because that first leadership experience made me realize my potential to learn and grow.
At the end of my first semester in college, my English professor gave me feedback that my writing showed great empathy and care and overall, had vastly improved. I treasured this small gesture because it showed me that my efforts were paying off, and I should continue to try harder to be the best version of myself.
I can say that I am the person that I am today because of the caring educators in my life. Their positive impacts nurtured my growth and development. They noticed my potentials and invested their time and expertise to guide me towards my goals. Without them, I might not be where I am today.
The immense impact of having empathetic educators throughout my life makes me believe it is crucial for all students to have caring individuals in their lives. This has empowered me to align my decisions with what might be my purpose in life. In short, I want young girls and boys to have the same experience I did so that they can feel that their voices and efforts matter.
Coming back to Cambodia after being away for so long, I noticed that urban development has greatly improved here. New coworking spaces and green buildings amazed me. I instantly felt hopeful and became curious about what is going on in this thriving city of Phnom Penh. Then I learned about Teach For Cambodia and was so inspired by the vision and mission, and how I could play a part in creating a better future here.
Today, I am motivated to bring innovation into education. Fueled by my passion and studies in human-centered design and how that might be applied in public education, I decided to become an educator myself. Through TFC, I am driven and committed to being an effective educator and leader to my future students. I will work alongside the school, community and our coaches to build a ladder of quality education for our children in high-need schools. I hope to help them realize their untapped potentials despite their adversities and to provide them with support and guidance by creating a safe space for learning and growth.
If I do not leap now to pave my own path, then when will I? I will only have more responsibilities to take on as I mature. Thus, if not me, then who? Join me now! Together, we can initiate small changes starting in the classroom that can create positive changes in education.