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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Crossing borders with close-knit colleagues

Crossing borders with close-knit colleagues

Retreat unfolds recreational and educational travel experience for teachers of iCAN

For most Cambodians, a holiday outside of the country is not a option. For many, a holiday within Cambodia isn’t either. But since 2003, iCAN British International School in Phnom Penh has been organising staff holidays for their personnel. This initiative gives employees of the school an opportunity to travel, a chance the Khmer staff might not have without this annual staff holiday.

The school helps its Khmer staff to obtain passports and necessary visas. According to Sophak Chhim, an iCAN School coordinator of the yearly staff holidays, the trip is a unique chance to enjoy the diversity of places, especially for local staff, including himself. In previous years, the school has organised visits by bus to Siem Reap, Ratanakkiri, Thailand and Vietnam. Earlier in November, 87 staff members of iCAN spent six days travelling around Singapore and Malaysia. For most, it was their first experience of travel by air. Soth Chanleakena, head of the school’s teaching assistants, said: “I had never been in an airplane before. It was scary to take off, but once we were flying, I thought it was more comfortable than a car.”

The staff retreat is organised and funded by iCAN. Elain Younn, the school’s director, developed the annual staff holiday programme.

She said she wanted her staff to be able to visit other countries so they could assess how much progress Cambodia still needs to make. At the same time, she said, she wants them to explore their own country.

Local and international trips alternate year by year.

“I remember a trip to Siem Reap in 2003, the year the school opened. People are travelling from all over the world to see the temples of Angkor Wat, yet our Cambodian staff had never seen it. I am very proud to make these experiences possible for them.”

Chandy Chou, a teaching assistant at the school, agreed.

“I am very happy to go on holidays with the people I work with. We get to know each other better and feel more like friends than colleagues”.



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