Almost 200 students from across the country yesterday participated in a youth forum aimed at developing their futures through community outreach and entrepreneurship.
Entitled ‘Preparation for a Decent Future’, the forum was organised by Good Neighbour Cambodia and the Education Ministry and aimed to empower students to develop themselves through community contribution.
Jaekyun Rho, country director of Good Neighbours Cambodia, said his organisation entrusted participants to play development roles in their community. In return, participants gained self-confidence.
“We have been trying to let them know about their rights, and empower them to reach their potential,” Mr Rho said. “We have also been trying to help them get motivated in order for them to contribute to the development of their own communities.”
“This is because GNC believes that there are changes that need to take place within the country. When the voices of the youth are heard, their participation is promoted and considered,” he added. “I think one of the most serious problems of modern society is individualism. Individualism makes people destroy one another and take care of no one but one’s self – it creates chaos nationwide.”
Mr Rho told 180 forum participants that his home country of South Korea is an example of a nation suffering from individualism. He said that it makes South Korea a nation of stress, where social inequality is apparent and suicide rate is high despite tremendous economic achievements.
“This is the result of Korea’s obsession with individual economic success. I want to tell you that you must seek togetherness and love, not just success,” he said. “For your own development, growth is more important than success. Those two things must be considered together, so that people can live in a harmonised society.”
Vorn Chanarareaksmey, a Tuol Ampil high school student in Phnom Penh, said that he has gained valuable experience from voluntary work.
“We have our own community called the Choeung Ek community. Our role is to educate community members by, for example, informing the community that rubbish should not be discarded in public areas,” Mr Chanarareaksmey said. “Though volunteering doesn’t give us money, we have a lot of work experience. We can help the community and clean the environment. It partly contributes to our future job search.”
Sean Borath, a secretary of state at the Education Ministry, said that youth outreach plays a role in building the nation.
“All youths have the potential to study and do business and receive vocational training as well as take part in community development activities,” Mr Borath said. “It is the role of the Education Ministry and development partners to make the youth reach their potential, as well as prepare them to overcome obstacles.”