Remarks by Deputy Chief of Mission Julie Chung at the 11th CamTESOL Conference on English Language Teaching

As Prepared for Delivery
Institute of Technology Cambodia (ITC), Phnom Penh
February 28, 2015

To His Excellency Minister Hang Chuon Naron, Australian Ambassador Alison Burrows, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

Good morning. I am pleased to be here with you today for the 11th Annual CamTESOL Conference. Thank you very much for this invitation to speak at today’s opening ceremony. On behalf of the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia, I would like to give special recognition to IDP Education. Your commitment over the past decade has made CamTESOL a real institution in Cambodia. And speaking of commitment, I would be remiss if I went any further without acknowledging all of the remarkable educators that we have here today, including the 206 Cambodian provincial teachers and 8 researchers whose attendance at this year’s conference is sponsored by the U.S. Embassy. I ask that everyone please join me and give a round of applause to all of the English teachers here for all of the wonderful work they are doing.

My appreciation for you comes from my diplomatic role, as well as, my personal experiences as an immigrant. I still remember arriving in the United States from Korea with my family when I was five years old, full of wonderment, curiosity, fear, and not knowing a single word of English. Initially, I struggled with the new culture and the new language, and desperately wanted to go back to Korea. But with the help of a caring first grade teacher, I slowly came out of my shell and began to read, write, and speak English. My teacher recognized my eagerness to learn and went the extra mile by providing me with additional lessons and library books that I would take home. She became more than just my teacher. She became a mentor that I remember to this very day.

I am sure that you can relate to my story, as your efforts have made similar impacts on the lives of your students. As a parent, I now want to ensure that my son will receive a quality education. For this to happen, it will require educators like you and my first grade teacher. Your job is crucial in preparing young citizens to fit in to our new global society. I am humbled by your dedication in performing your tasks in difficult and demanding situations. Your professionalism, commitment, and your desire to improve your skills are indeed commendable.

CamTESOL offers a unique opportunity to promote English teaching in Cambodia and in the region, and to encourage cooperation in this field. During this weekend, you have the time to discuss such educational matters as curriculum development, teaching methods, and managing English-language programs, in order to help improve the quality of education. One of the reasons why I love learning different languages is because language helps connect you with more people. The reality of today’s world is that English – the language of business, higher education, and the Internet – is a common thread that provides an opportunity for Cambodians to strengthen their connections with the rest of the world, especially with regards to the upcoming ASEAN integration. With that said, I hope you realize that what you do when you leave this conference will not only affect individual students; you also have the power to influence the development of the entire country.

Sounds exciting, right? Well, thanks to the experts that are here at CamTESOL, I am confident that you will receive a number of resources and contacts that will assist you in your efforts. Again, I would like to thank all of the English teachers here today and a special thank you to Minister Naron for his vision and leadership in education. Educators like you are the keys to success now and in the future. By attending this conference, sharing ideas, and working together to improve English language instruction and learning, we can all open more doors for Cambodia’s youth and youth around the world. Thank you.