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Library project in Phnom Kravanh

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Left to Right Vanny Ly, Bill Dangel, Cindy Lahar, Heav Hak, Frank Kursteiner, Luise Ahrens, Ly Vanna, Srey Ros, Then Pean and Kheng Mao.

ALIBRARY project sponsored by Crown Worldwide in the town of Phnom Kravanh, in Cambodia's Pursat province,  is beginning to take shape and is looking for donations of books on all subjects, mostly in the Khmer language, but also in English.

Crown’s owner, Jim Thompson, donated US$52,000 for the construction of the library, a much-needed educational resource in Phnom Kravanh district, which is flanked   by rolling forested mountains.

A Crown mini-van full of associates visited the site last week and encountered Peace Corps volunteer Bill Dangel, 26, of Seattle, who is teaching English at the school where the library is being built and who will likely be involved in organising the library and making its books available to local people.

Most of the rural students Dangel works with have dreams of studying at a university in Phnom Penh.

Dangel recently organised a trip for 10 students to visit the Royal University of Phnom Penh and PUC Universities to take a look at the possibility of higher learning.

As for the local high-school students, Dangel says they’re busy with obligations to their families.

“There’s a mentality that they need to be in the classroom to be learning. When you’re at school, you’re learning – when you’re at home, you’re helping your family.”

Dangel, a political science graduate from the University of Washington, hopes to undertake graduate studies at Georgetown University when he finishes his work at Phnom Kravanh in 14 months.

Dangel received praise from the school’s principal for his effort with the students, his participation in sports and his work in trying to find loads of dirt to fill in the soccer field, which floods every year during the rainy season.

Also on the trip were Dr Luise Ahrens, a Catholic nun from the Maryknoll Sisters and a professor of English at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, and Dr Cindy Lahar, a professor of psychology at RUPP. Both are actively supporting Thompson’s project, raising money for the supply of books.

The library is scheduled to open on October 22.

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