Remarks by Ambassador William A. Heidt at the Access Graduation

American Education Center, Phnom Penh
December 29, 2017

Good morning everyone! I am very happy to be here at AEC this morning for this special graduation ceremony for the English Access Microscholarship Program.

Today we are celebrating your hard work and accomplishments over the past two years. But first I would like to acknowledge some people who helped you along the way. First of all, even though she could not be here today, I would like to thank AEC’s director, Ms. Serei Andet LAM for her leadership of this school.
Of course, none of us would be here today without the support and the hard work of your teachers. So please give a round of applause for Ms. Chanmolika HENG and Mr. Piseth CHHOUR. Finally, I would like all the students to give a round of applause for your parents. Thank you, parents, for believing in and supporting your children!

The U.S. Embassy is proud to sponsor the English Access Microscholarship Program to help young Cambodians like you learn English. Since 2004, more than 1,200 Cambodian students have studied English through this program.

In today’s global economy, where Cambodia is integrating itself into ASEAN and the world, knowing English is important for Cambodia’s future leaders. So we are very happy to sponsor your learning.

Your dedication to learning English will help you succeed in college, open the doors to a promising career, and help you serve as constructive and respected voices in your communities. It will also help you contribute to Cambodia’s development.

This is just the new beginning of a long journey ahead. The hard work and dedication you needed to make it through this program will help you find success in the future. I would like to share with you two success stories of our Access alumni in Cambodia, which I hope will inspire you to continue to work hard.

Senhong Yourk, an Access alumnus from Kampong Chhnang, is the only child from his family to graduate from university. During the course of his university studies—and thanks to his English skills—Senghong found a job working for an international company organizing exchange trips for incoming visitors.

Senhong then joined the U.S. Ambassador’s Youth Council and served as its public relations officer. He also participated in the Southeast Asian Youth Leadership Program, an exchange program we sponsor in the United States, in 2012. Since then, he has become active in community work across Cambodia.

Mas Teyaorm (known as “Tey”), another Access alumnus from Kampong Chhnang, received a scholarship from the Harpswell Foundation to study International Relations at the University of Cambodia in Phnom Penh. Teyaorm also works at an international organization called the Indochina Starfish Foundation as a development assistant.

She also went on the Southeast Asian Youth Leadership Program to the United States in 2012. As Teyaorm said, “The Access program has changed me from being a silent girl to the one who is never afraid to talk to new people, learn new things, and start giving to society.”

You have the skills to follow their examples and create opportunities for yourselves. You have learned about American culture and values and gained the necessary knowledge of English to get good jobs with international companies or organizations, and to compete for other U.S. government exchanges and study programs.

If studying in the United States is your dream, it’s definitely possible now that you have worked so hard on your English for the past two years. I encourage you to explore some of the Embassy’s programs, like the one-semester exchange called Global Undergraduate Program (UGRAD). Or you can come to the Embassy to talk to our new EducationUSA Advisor, Mr. Po Eng.

I would also like all of you to consider getting involved in the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) that connects you with other young people throughout the ASEAN region to work on projects that help their communities.

Lastly – please don’t forget us at the U.S. Embassy. We have invested in you because we believe that each and every one of you will be successful in your studies and your careers. Now we consider you our alumni, so please follow our Facebook and stay in touch, so that we can continue to support your future studies and careers.

So congratulations once again to everyone! You should be very proud of your accomplishments. Thank you very much.