Remarks by Deputy Chief of Mission Julie Chung at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at the Rumcheck Commune School

Rumcheck Commune School, Kampong Cham
February 9, 2015

Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, Rumcheck School children and staff, and citizens of Kampong Cham, thank you for inviting me to today’s joyous ceremony.  I am grateful to be able to visit Kampong Cham and to meet the wonderful people who call this part of Cambodia home.

Today we are celebrating the construction of some new buildings, so I thought it would be fitting to begin by describing the relationship between a school and the community it serves in the terms that builders would use:  a school is the foundation of a community.  Without the solid foundation of an institution that introduces young minds to the treasure of learning – a place where teachers build knowledge and wisdom in their pupils – the upward progress and stability of the community structure that depends on that school for its foundation will be limited.  A community needs people with wisdom and knowledge to be leaders, providers for their families, and responsible parents, among the countless other roles of people in a thriving society.  Thanks to cooperation between the United States and Cambodia, we are celebrating the opening of a new school that will provide for Rumcheck the kind of solid foundation of educational opportunity that every community requires and every child deserves.

On behalf of the U.S. Embassy, I would like to recognize the outstanding job of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and their Cambodian contractor partners in the construction of the new facilities we are opening today.  I am delighted to see this example of what the involvement of the U.S. military in Cambodia is delivering to communities like Rumcheck.  The quality and care that they have put into these and other educational and health care facilities throughout Cambodia is remarkable.  However, not only did the engineering team care about the structure; far more importantly, they made decisions that show they care about the people using these new buildings.  You notice that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the school well above the ground to keep water out of the classrooms when flooding occurs.  The building was built just a bit higher so that people can safely and comfortably walk under it and park their bikes and motos.  New bathrooms were included in the project for children and staff’s comfort and sanitation, and one of the bathrooms was built for wheelchair access.  You generally expect builders to have strong hands, but these considerate efforts prove that our builders have big hearts, too.  Let’s give a round of applause to the engineers and builders who worked on this magnificent new school.

To close my thoughts for today, I would like to end with some advice for the children here today, which comes from a Khmer saying: Chang-koeub preur svas-sveng rok rean ris sa-ra poeu kdey.  In English, “If a comfortable life is what you seek, study, be mindful and learn.”  My sincere wish is that the children of Rumcheck – and all children in Cambodia – find the comfortable lives they seek, using the power of education to achieve their dreams.

My congratulations go out to all the citizens of Kampong Cham Province, and especially the children and staff of Rumcheck Commune School.  Thank you.