Remarks by Ambassador William A. Heidt at the EducationUSA Student Fair

Center for Khmer Studies (CKS), Siem Reap
June 13, 2017
(as delivered)

Good afternoon and thank you all for coming to the first-ever EducationUSA student fair in Siem Reap!

I’d like to thank Mr. Ourng Kimsoeurn from the Siem Reap Provincial Department of Education Youth, and Sport, to the Center for Khmer Studies, and to the American Corner at the University of Southeast Asia for making today’s event possible.

I’d also like to recognize all of the schools with representatives here today.  It’s great to see so many people working together to improve the quality of education in Siem Reap.

Siem Reap is a fun and rapidly growing city known for having a lot of very bright young people.  We are hosting this fair today because we think that academically qualified students from Siem Reap should have the opportunity to gain experience in the United States.  In fact, many of your friends and colleagues are already doing this.

We are calling this even the “EducationUSA Fair” because one of the best resources for young people is the Embassy’s EducationUSA advising center.  EducationUSA provides free counseling to students who want to study in the United States.  The advisors can provide you with advice about how to select a university, how to apply for scholarships, and even how to get a visa.

The EducationUSA center is in Phnom Penh, but that shouldn’t stop you.  You can call, email, or Facebook them anytime.  We will be hearing from the director, Ms. Kolap Mao, in just a few moments.

Another fantastic resource is our American Corner at the University of Southeast Asia, which is free and open to all.  You can visit it to improve your English, learn about American culture, and to browse the library, which includes information about student exchanges.

The American Corner also hosts guest speakers, film events, and much more.  If you haven’t visited, you really should check it out.  The American Corner director, Mr. Hun Dara, is here to answer your questions.

Another great resource is YSEALI – the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative.  We have almost 7,000 young Cambodian members in our network who are interested in leadership and educational opportunities, and I hope that you will join as well.

We have some YSEALI leaders with us today, including Heng Sokgech, who led a volunteer program right here in Siem Reap last year.  Sokgech – please raise your hand.  The YSEALI Younfied event she organized mobilized over 300 young people to plant trees along a roadway, repair a commune municipal building, and run a seminar on job opportunities for high school students.

Another great role model is Suth Phalkun, from right here in Siem Reap.  Phalkun isn’t here because she is currently studying at Lafayette College in the state of Pennsylvania, where I come from.  Phalkun received a scholarship from the NGO SHE-CAN in 2016.

Today we are fortunate enough to have several other SHE-CAN scholars – Srey Nich Vann, Love Soun, and Sinet Kroch – who are all from Siem Reap and are looking forward to their upcoming programs in the United States.  This one is only for girls, but there are plenty of opportunities like this for both girls and boys.

I urge you to connect with other students, to learn from them, and to follow their example.  If they did it, then so can you.  It takes a lot of work to get a scholarship, and you might not succeed on your first try.  But the experience that you get is worth the effort, and can prepare you for a lifetime of success.

The first step is to believe in yourself and your abilities.  The next step is to get informed, which you are doing today.  And the third and final step is to gather your courage and do it.  I hope that many of you will decide to take this step in the future and will be part of the next generation of Cambodian exchanges students.

Thank you for coming, and enjoy the fair!