Jan 25th, 2021 01/25/21 | Community Stories

CREATING SCHOLARS

CCF’s successful partnership with Trinity College, part of the University of Melbourne, has now seen six CCF students offered a full scholarship to study in Australia

Having the opportunity to attend school is a huge step for all CCF students, who would otherwise never have the chance to access education. But CCF wants students to dream bigger. And thanks to a partnership with Trinity College, these dreams are becoming a reality.

In 2017, Trinity College, part of the prestigious University of Melbourne, began offering CCF students a life-changing opportunity to study overseas with a full scholarship for a Foundation Year program.

Since then, six CCF students have become Trinity Scholars. The latest two are Meas Kanha, 19, and Moeun Seang Meng, 20, who were awarded the 2020 scholarships. Seang Meng also had the honour of being the first male CCF student to win a place on the scheme.

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When I was younger, I lived in the province and lived with a poor family with my aunt. I never imagined then that this would happen to me.

— Moeun Seang Meng

“It is unbelievable because I never expected that I could do this. When I saw my name, I felt shocked and said ‘Is it true?’,” said Seang Meng, of the moment he heard that he had been awarded a Trinity scholarship.

Providing children like Seang Meng with access to a high quality education offers a proven pathway out of poverty, helping to create a new generation of accomplished young Cambodians capable of leading change in their communities and country.

The first generations of children rescued from the old Steung Meanchey garbage dump are now attending and graduating from university.

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Collaborating with partners like Trinity College allows CCF students to aim higher, academically and personally, while experiencing new cultures and enriching environments.

Kanha and Seang Meng study the Cambodian public school curriculum at CCF’s flagship high school, the Neeson Cripps Academy, which offers a high quality education enabling CCF students to achieve the standard needed to apply for international scholarships direct from Grade 12.

“It was one of my dreams that I want to study abroad and get a scholarship,” said Kanha, who joined CCF when she was nine years old.

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“I’m very happy my dream has come true.”

By now, they should be starting their new life in Australia, meeting their fellow international scholars and excitedly soaking up the unfamiliar sights and sounds around them.

But due to COVID and travel restrictions, the pair have had to remain in Cambodia for now and begin their Trinity scholarships from afar with online classes and study. Both started the first term remotely on 12 January.

CCF’s Trinity Scholars are chosen after a tough selection process of tests and interviews. Most of the students have already had to overcome huge obstacles, coming from impoverished and difficult backgrounds, just to get into a classroom. Which means Kanha and Seang Meng are not fazed by the extra challenge of starting their Trinity journey online.

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For inspiration, they can always look to their fellow CCF Trinity Scholars, who are forging a path to follow.

Sophy Ron, the first CCF Trinity Scholar in 2017, whose remarkable journey from the garbage dump to valedictorian made headlines around the world, is now in her second year of a degree at the University of Melbourne, majoring in International Studies, and Media and Communications.

She can offer a warm welcome and a few words of advice to the novice scholars, Kanha and Seang Meng. “I’m so proud of them,” said Sophy.

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I’m also very excited for them to join us here. We’ll have more CCF students in the future

— Yem Sovannry

Yem Sovannry, 18, is one of two CCF students who received the 2018 Trinity Scholarship.

Sovannry, 18, and Seng Hoarng, 19, the other 2018 scholarship recipient, have both recently been accepted onto degree programs at Melbourne after passing the Trinity Foundation year. Sovannry hopes to study International Politics and Relations, while Hoarng is looking at a Psychology major.

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Last year, Som Vannita, 19, became the fourth CCF Trinity Scholar. Her journey to get to Melbourne was an incredible achievement, having only started learning English with CCF when she was 10 years old. She joined CCF’s program full-time later.

Vannita is enjoying campus life, now a lockdown in Melbourne has been lifted, and has started the second semester of her Foundation year.

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Studying overseas not only benefits CCF students academically. It also allows them to develop personally, something Seang Meng is keen to explore.

“When I go there [Australia], I can learn to live an independent life and be confident,” he said.

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Trinity is supporting Seang Meng and Kanha while they remain in Cambodia with a stipend and ensuring they have food, computers, internet access and safe housing, which is being coordinated by CCF.

Seang Meng, who wants to be a lawyer, will be staying in one of CCF’s World Housing communities. His parents live close by.

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CCF inspires us to be a better person and step out of our comfort zone

— Meas Kanha

Kanha, who recently celebrated her 19th birthday, will be in CCF’s newly opened Phum Banteay Srey - Girls to Grannies Community, a female-only community offering a safe haven for women and girls in the heart of Steung Meanchey around the former garbage dump.

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“If I hadn’t joined CCF, I wouldn’t have had any opportunity to get an education. I probably couldn't have made my dream come true (to get a scholarship to study abroad),” said Kanha, who is confident of succeeding in her aim to study Management and Commerce at degree level.

Sokchannin Kram, CCF’s Education Manager, said: “The partnership with Trinity is very important for CCF, giving our students a wonderful opportunity to study overseas. We look forward to more CCF students gaining scholarships in the future."

Both Kanha and Seang Meng are excited at the prospect of their new studies - but are also looking forward to the day they can eventually travel to Australia and meet their Trinity classmates in person.

When it happens, it will be the first time that Seang Meng has left Cambodia.

“When my family heard the news [about the scholarship], they felt so happy, especially my oldest sister. She said: ‘My brother I am so proud of you’ and that it was a big gift for her to end 2020,” said Seang Meng.

“This is a big opportunity for me and I promise everyone, my family, CCF and Trinity that I will work hard and not let anyone down.”

Written by

Kate Ginn

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