In the wake of this year’s successful US-Cambodia Education Fair in April, the organizer is planning two more events in January next year, one in Siem Reap on the twentieth and one in Phnom Penh on the twenty-second.
Dr. Ruwan Hulugalle made the decision to keep promoting the interchange between Cambodian students and American universities because of the success of the event in April, which attracted more than 20 American institutions from 14 different states .
“This is an acknowledgement by American university officials that they are beginning to realize the progress that Cambodian education has achieved under the leadership of the Royal Government of Cambodia, and they are beginning to look for ways to contribute to that progress,” Hulugalle said.
More than 3,000 students attended the US-Cambodia Education Fair in April.
“American universities were able to recruit paid students and we’re very happy that a few American institutions are considering creating scholarships specifically for Cambodian students. We hope joint programs will be organized and that over time more Cambodians will have access to American education standards,” Hulugalle said.
“We’re happy to report the majority of the American university officials have expressed an interest to return to Cambodia in the future.”
Hulugalle said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Royal Government of Cambodia had earlier spoken about improving educational relations, which helped provide inspiration for the fair.
“American universities never thought of coming to Cambodia before to recruit because of the legacy of war and instability. From this year forward however, American universities are likely to visit every year,” he said.
“Now, for the first time in Cambodia’s history, American education institutions have started to come and we think they’ll come back every year, which is special.”
American university officials will come to Cambodia next year as part of a larger swing through the region including countries that send the most students to America from the region – Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
“We put Cambodia on the map for American university representatives,” he said.
Hulugalle said adding Siem Reap to this January’s agenda is designed to enable visiting American institutions to meet more students and to learn more about the world heritage that is Cambodia’s culture and history.
“We hope the Americans are able to meet a broader variety of students and get a feel for the amazing culture and history that exists in Cambodia. We want the American visitors to get a feeling for the uniqueness and special qualities of Cambodia so they will understand the need to return every year.”
“What we want is for Cambodians to get a real taste of what American institutions have to offer and vice versa to let American officials know what Cambodia has to offer and build upon the success we have had following our inaugural event.”
Hulugalle, an American with a law degree from the University of Hawai’i and a former employee of the US Embassy in Phnom Penh, runs a business and legal consulting company offering services as varied as corporate governance evaluation to pre-school curriculum development.
“I’m continually looking for ways to creatively participate in Cambodia’s development,” he said.
Hulugalle said he was grateful to local partners in the US-Cambodia Education Fair including the US Embassy, Education USA, the Royal Government of Cambodia, the Cambodian Children’s Fund, Pannasastra University of Cambodia, American Education Center, RMA Cambodia, Coca Cola, Mega, and The Phnom Penh Post.
“This event was a group effort, and together we made a difference,” he said.