To build the capacities of Cambodian youth, six people from a diverse array of institutions recently banded together to launch “The Perspectives Cambodia,” a personal development program focusing on knowledge, character and teamwork.
“We have created this group as a new social platform that will enable different perspectives to be expressed by Cambodians thoughtfully and respectfully,” said Kang Rithisal, who represents the arts sector within the group.
The primary mission of The Perspectives Cambodia is to promote knowledge-based social development and sustainability, said co-founder and mentor Hour Tola. One of the initiatives of the program is a debate tournament which pitted eight teams against each other at the National Institute of Education.
“We provide qualified training and a fruitful platform from which youth can share their personal perspectives on how to solve public problems. Cultivating a positive mindset in the context of difference and diversity are the most crucial purposes of the program,” Mr Tola said.
Mr Tola believes young Cambodians can benefit from personality development and critical thinking based on knowledge, confidence and solidarity. Young people, he said, are the most important development resource the country has.
Ngoun Dara, 24, a TESOL student at Pannasastra University of Cambodia (PUC), said the program trained participants to be mature debaters and offered all participants a chance to share their personal perspectives with the public.
“I learned public speaking skills, which boosted my confidence and team spirit. I’ve definitely seen lasting improvements in the areas of critical thinking, effective communication, independent research and teamwork, and so forth.” Mr Dara said.
After much toil and triumph during both practice and competition, Mr Dara said he got lots of advice and guidance from mentors, who furnished the techniques and taught the skills he needed. These skills can serve individuals well in school, at work, in the political arena, and in fulfilling one’s responsibilities as a citizen in a democratic society, he said.
“I will be ready to provide as much support and encouragement as I can, and I am prepared to debate highly controversial issues in the future,” Mr Dara said.
Sok Samphy, 22, was similarly enthusiastic. Ms Samphy, who studies chemistry at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, said she appreciated the program because it offers her a chance to share personal perspectives in public and enabled her to learn from the experiences of others.
“I noticed that the program immediately boosted my confidence, my ability to work in a team environment, and my research skills,” Ms Samphy said.
She was optimistic that after joining the program, other young people would be able to develop their critical-thinking skills and use them to conduct research and analyze and solve problems that arise in Cambodia.