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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodian goes from refugee to winner of major international awards

Dr Mengly J Quach in his office with five awards that he has won from around the globe.
Dr Mengly J Quach in his office with five awards that he has won from around the globe. Moeun Nhean

Cambodian goes from refugee to winner of major international awards

In a large meeting hall on the 12th floor of a dormitory of American Intercon Institute and American Intercon School near Mao Tse Toung Boulevard, Dr Mengly J Quach reflected on his success in creating his institute until he wins awards and certificates from the world’s major evaluation institutions.

Quach, a Cambodian-American and a founder of M.J.Q, which includes an American-style education institute and health centre, said that “as of 2014, American Intercon Institute has received five major international certificates and awards from around the world, ranging from Singapore to the UK, France, Belgium and the United Arab Emirates.

“These five awards were granted by five separate major institutions which carry out a thorough examination before they decide to give anyone, any company or any institute an award. We, who are the owners of the institute which was selected, did not know about their principles, criteria or observation and evaluation of our institutions,” Quach said. “Only when they announced the result did they contact us to be ready to receive the award. The news made me extremely happy.”

Quach said that the institute received its first award, at the SME One Asia, Overseas Enterprise Awards in Singapore, on July 19, 2012.

Dr Mengly J Quach (fourth left) poses after an awards ceremony with other high-profile winners.
Dr Mengly J Quach (fourth left) poses after an awards ceremony with other high-profile winners. PHOTO SUPPLIED

“For our second award, in January 2013, we received the International Star for Leadership in Quality Award 2013 in Paris. It was an award that focused on outstanding talent and leadership of an institution or large enterprise anywhere around the world.

“In September 2013 we received the BIZZ Arabic 2013 Award for Quality and CSR Certificate in Dubai, Unite Arab Emirates. This award was accompanied by a certificate to certify the quality and leadership and especially to certify our humanitarian work of sharing with and helping the surrounding communities. It was the most important and prestigious award in the whole Arab community and around the world,” Quach said.

Pointing to the many awards of different shapes and colours displayed on the table nearby, Quach said that it was not long after receiving the BIZZ prize that he received his next award – the Majestic Five Continents Award For Quality and Excellence in Switzerland. It was his fourth award, but for him it was the most meaningful.

“This fourth award was great for the founder of a small institute such as myself – a refugee as a boy who lived with so many difficulties but who got to the big international stage, standing next to pioneers, former ministers, mayors and heads of state from around the world to receive this great award.” Quach said.

“It was the most special day for a Cambodian like me. In my life, I had never thought that I could receive an honour like this.”

Dr Mengly J Quach (third right) and his family at a refugee camp near the Cambodia-Thailand border in the 1980s, before going to live in the US.
Dr Mengly J Quach (third right) and his family at a refugee camp near the Cambodia-Thailand border in the 1980s, before going to live in the US. PHOTO SUPPLIED

“I saw the organising committee wave the Cambodian flag and the sound of my name and motherland being announced and the applause was echoed as I started walking through the carpet. I felt as though I was floating,” he recalled.

The latest honour that the AII and AIS institute have received is the Best Enterprise in the Educational Sphere award by the Europe Business Assembly. The European Chamber of Commerce invited Quach to receive the prize in London on December 17, 2013.

Quach added that this award was the most important one for education quality as it focused on three separate points: Best Enterprise in the Educational Sphere, Best Leader of the Year in the Education Sphere and Best Campus in International Science and Education Competition.

All the awards and certificates the AII and AIS have received are not the result of Quach’s efforts alone, but of the hard work by “all of my more than 900 colleagues, mostly teachers, lecturers, and staff. But most important was that all students at our institutes worked hard until they became outstanding in almost all subjects.

“Our teachers and staff were effective players in promoting education quality, while the students were a very active catalyst that made everyone aware of AII and AIS.”

He added that, “in short, the success and image of AII, AIS and of corporate M.J.Q is the pride of students and teachers alike, and shows that Cambodia belongs on the international stage. So far, my students have participated in a competition of outstanding international students from across ASEAN. They came in second, scoring 70 points and ending just one point behind the winners, the Philippines.

“Regarding a nationwide competition for outstanding students in all subjects, including sport, Khmer literature, poetry, English and mathematics, our students received leading scores in almost all exams.

“The key to the success of AII and AIS is that I have a duty to care for all my staff, to see that they have a decent livelihood. This helps make them pay attention to their teaching and apply appropriate discipline with all students,” Quach emphasised.

“I consider myself a lucky director because I have staff who all are good people, who are gentle and who love and respect their duties,” he said. “My job for AII and AIS is to bring a high standard of education from the knowledge and experienced I gained in America. I want to pass the American standard to Cambodian students here.”

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