AFTER graduating from university, most people try to find a job related to the skills they have learned. But Seng Shouphorn, 26, who lives in Phnom Penh, decided to spend a year as a volunteer in the Youth Star Cambodia program.
Seng Shophorn has become a youth leader in Ovey village, Speu commune, in the Chamka Ler district of Kompong Cham province. Her mission is to serve the community and encourage its young people to develop themselves.
Two weeks ago, I travelled for five hours from Phnom Penh to visit Seng Shophorn in Ovey village.
The community she lives in is quite a way from the national highway, so it is fairly isolated.
I spent half a day talking with Seng Shouphorn and joining her in some of regular activities. She told me that after gaining her bachelor’s degree in agriculture skills, she had tried to apply for jobs with local organisations.
She found this difficult because she had no experience, so she applied for a position as a volunteer.
“I thought I didn’t have enough experience to apply for job, so I thought I would involve myself in serving the community first by becoming a volunteer for the Youth Star Cambodia program,” Seng Shouphorn says.
She has completed half a year in Ovey village and has another six months to go. While there, she has improved her skills and become a model for local young people.
Seng Shophorn has encountered a few difficulties while working as a volunteer. “I had never had any experience of living in such a community, so it was a bit hard for me to adjust to it,” she says.
But along with the difficulties, there was encouragement from the residents. “The kind, friendly support from people in the commune encouraged me to try harder,” she says.
Seng Shophorn has a lot of work to do. Every Monday to Wednesday from 7am to 10am, she holds classes in literacy, including information about health and social education. From 2pm to 3pm, she holds general knowledge and English classes for high-school students.
On Saturday mornings, she has mathematics and English classes for grade 7 to 10 students. Sometimes her classes are also attended by old and disabled people.
Seng Shophorn is very popular in the village. Everyone in the village, young or old, calls her “Teacher”.
As well as being a teacher, Seng Shouporn is a facilitator of the village’s youth club. She encourages young people to help develop the village by doing community work such as repairing roads, planting fruits and flowers and keeping the village environment clean.
Moreover, she is trying to tell them about the important resources the village has and to convince them to use those resources carefully. “After I spend a year living here, I think I will have acquired some valuable experience along with my knowledge, so it will be much easier for me to apply for a job related to my skills and my community service,” Seng Shorphorn says.