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Get to Know Our Students & Alumni

EYC is a collection of hundreds of talented young people hungry for change.  Here are just a few of their stories.

A Future That is Sure to Soar: Seyha

Imagine at the age of seven, spending your evenings selling balloons to passersby on the busy streets of Phnom Penh. That is the life Seyha, now 21, led for almost a decade. Working often late into the night to earn $1.25-$1.50 to help support his family, he would then search the rubbish for discarded food to eat. He never imagined one day he would be able to speak English, be a university student, and have a steady job -- let alone travel to numerous countries!    Neither his dad, a moto-driver, nor his mum, a seller, speak English, and they both stopped school in grade six or seven. Twice his family faced eviction due to development. They currently live in a rented room at a pagoda area following the demolition of their last home in the White Building slum community.    Life for Seyha began to change one day in 2011 when he noticed kids gathering outside a room at the White Building. He asked what they were doing. They replied they were waiting for their class at EYC’s Aziza school to start and suggested he come along. Seyha had always wanted to learn English, but his family couldn’t afford…

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Find Your Talent. Create Your Future: Rithy

"Find Your Talent. Create Your Future," EYC's motto, could not ring more true than for the life of a young man named Rithy. In fact, when he first heard it, he wondered if it had been written about him and his EYC experience. Once a troublemaker in school, Rithy is now a tenacious, hardworking, and creative talent. So how did a boy totally uninterested in school and not willing to study become a university student, proficient songwriter, filmmaker, and graphic designer? Rithy grew up in the community at the White Building. He comes from a family of five, and education has always been very important to his parents - his father, a soldier, finished Grade 12, his mother, a housewife, completed Grade 9.  When Rithy was young, however, he wasn’t interested in studying and didn’t feel comfortable at his school, and thus often got into trouble. At age 12, after Rithy got into a fight with a school friend, his mother knew they needed to make a change, and she moved him to Aziza, hoping that would be a better environment for him. Going to Aziza opened up a whole new world to Rithy. He immediately felt at home and was…

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EYC is the Place That Changes You: “Ericka”

When Ericka was about nine-years-old, her father, a goldsmith, was sent to jail. This meant that she and her 11 month-old brother left Phnom Penh to go live with their aunt in the countryside. To help with her aunt's expenses, Ericka had to work washing dishes at a small restaurant. She was also responsible for taking care of her baby brother, and she had to wake up throughout the night to feed him. Because she was exhausted from working and being up at night, she often had a hard time concentrating at school. After living with her aunt for a year, she and her brother moved in with their grandmother for four years (Grades 5-8). When she was in Grade 9 at state school, they returned to Phnom Penh to live with their parents. Thanks to another aunt, whose sons had all participated in programs at EYC, she was encouraged to join as well. EYC is the place that changes you; it makes you stronger and able to learn better. It changes your mindset and the way you think about your life, your future, and other people. Her parents have always been supportive of her education. However, her father was resistant…

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EYC is My Life: Kolboth

20-year-old Kolboth has a long history with EYC.  In fact, it was his family's house near the White Building, that EYC rented to open Aziza.  When Kolboth was six-years-old, he and his brother moved in with his aunt at the White Building and began taking classes at EYC. While Kolboth's family has struggled, his aunt has been a source of stability and strength for him. He credits her with always encouraging him and stressing that education is the key to opportunity. He wants to repay her support by working hard and doing well. EYC has been integral to Kolboth's life over the last 14 years, teaching him skills both inside and outside the classroom and creating an opportunity for him to forge deep connections with the other students from Aziza. Kolboth has taken English and Computer classes, participated in community clean-ups, volunteered in the medical/dental program, worked as an assistant computer teacher, and as a Team Leader in the sports program for soccer. He has also received four scholarships from EYC. The first paid for extra math classes to prepare for the national exam, and the rest have covered expenses related to his first three years at university. Kolboth, who…

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I Love EVERYTHING About EYC: “Daniel”

We would like to introduce you to "Daniel", a young EYC student. Daniel, who is 11 years old, lives with his father, a welder, his mother, a grocery vendor, his seven-year-old brother, and his grandmother.  Their house is close enough to EYC that he can bike on his own to class – something that he is very proud of. Daniel was six-years-old when he started classes at EYC, and although he tends to be quieter at home, he is very active at EYC, participating in class and helping other students when they need assistance. When asked what she thinks of EYC, Daniel’s mother smiles.  She shares how much she appreciates the English teaching Daniel is receiving through EYC, and she hopes that with the skills he is learning he will be able to get a good job. Daniel says he likes EVERYTHING about EYC and wants to participate in EYC for as long as he can!  In addition to English, he studies computer. He used to play football with the EYC team but found he was too tired afterward to do the work he needed to do for school.  His favorite subject in public school is Math, and when he is…

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Overcoming Hardship Through Hard Work and Support: Dyno

Dyno, now 25 years old, first heard about EYC when he was 16. Team Leaders from Lakeside were opening Youth School in his community, and as two of the Team Leaders were hauling in school materials, they noticed Dyno outside the school. They asked for his help, proceeding to tell him about EYC and explaining that he could come study there for free.  That meeting would prove very fortuitous for the future trajectory of Dyno’s life. At 16, Dyno, the 5thchild of six siblings, had lost his father and was heading down a dangerous path. Dyno shared that kids in his slum community would follow each other – if one of them did something, often the “wrong thing,” the others would follow. As they grew older, most of the kids in the community joined gangs and became involved in drugs and violence. Before that day outside Youth School, Dyno was heading down that very same path. After meeting the EYC Team Leaders, Dyno started studying English at Youth School, and his life began to change. He no longer hung out with his old friends as much, having come to recognize the difference between their behaviors and activities and those of…

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A Love of Sports Turned My Life Around: Nara

My name is Sovanara, but people usually call me Nara.  I am 23 years old and live with my mom in a house near Lakeside School. In January 2018, I became the EYC Sports Coordinator.  When I was young my life was relatively normal, and I went to school regularly.  However, my father left us to start a new family when I was ten years old.  We had a number of problems which made concentrating on school challenging.  I started hanging out with a gang and skipping school.  Many of my friends from that time went on to only reach Grades 5, 6 or 7.   It was my love of sports and the support of EYC that helped me turn my life around.  I started at EYC when I was about 12 years old and participated in the computer and football programs.  Indochina Starfish Foundation (ISF), an EYC partner, led the football program.  I tried out to be a coach with ISF but was turned down because I was too small.  I was very sad about this, and because I was feeling bad I stopped going to EYC.  Luckily for me, EYC didn't give up on me.  Vandeth, a Team Leader, came to my…

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The Impact of Scholarships: Sreyroth

When Sreyroth was a young girl, she believed her life held little opportunity.  At best, she would finish high school and become a vegetable seller like her mum or a construction worker like her sister who had dropped out of school in Grade 8. However, when she was 12 years old, she learned about EYC, and her future started to unfold in a new and unimaginable way. Today, at 22, Sreyroth is studying Hospitality and Tourism at Norton University in Phnom Penh with the help of a tuition scholarship from EYC. She dreams of owning a resort where people can come to relax, enjoy time with others, and connect with nature. Sreyroth’s family lived in a slum community near the White Building, the former location of Aziza school where Sreyroth started learning English with EYC at age 12.   Unfortunately, the community was forced out, and Sreyroth’s family lost their home due to eviction. The families from the community were resettled 20 kilometers outside the city where there was no school. For many kids, that was the end of their education, but not for Sreyroth.  Although it took her 1.5 hours on the back of her dad’s motorbike or in a “tuk-tuk” supplied by EYC, or…

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