Rotana Believed She’d Never Graduate, Not Anymore
In an afternoon lecture hall, sitting at an unassuming wooden desk covered with paper, Rotana looks like any other university student. She’s intelligent, inquisitive, takes detailed notes, and enjoys making presentations in class. It’s hard to imagine this diligent student once thought she’d never even graduate secondary school.
Like many of ISF’s students, Rotana’s family migrated from Cambodia’s countryside to earn more money in its capital city. But the income from her parent’s jobs as a vegetable seller and a Tuk tuk driver were not enough to give their daughter an education. When she saw other children passing by in groups on their way to school, she wanted to be like them. Though, living in constant poverty, finishing high school and continuing on to university seemed impossible to her.
Knowing the hardships that urban poor families in face, ISF contacted Rotana’s family to enroll her in our Catch-Up Programme. After passing our screening process, she started learning with us in 2011 at grade 4. Later, she graduated from our accelerated learning programme. Then integrated into Cambodia’s public education system and completed high school in 2019. Now 21 years old, she’s begun her freshman year at Pannasastra University of Cambodia (PUC) majoring in English.
Like many new college students, Rotana feels nervous about entering this unfamiliar learning environment. Despite her trepidation, Rotana is very enthusiastic about developing her English skills, learning new things and making more friends. She chose to study English at PUC because it has always been her favorite subject and is a language, she wants to become fluent in. And she credits her prior language learning classes at ISF with giving her a leg-up. “I feel lucky to have learnt English before going to the university. If not, my university life would be a total disaster. Though I can use English well now, I realized there are more things to learn and ideas to explore at the university. My curiosity keeps motivating me to continue learning!’ While she sometimes struggles with all the new concepts she shown, she’s found reassurance and guidance from her lecturers and fellow classmates. Not surprisingly, her favorite part of university life is working in groups. She feels it helps her improve her speaking and communication skills.
While attending university, Rotana receives support from ISF’s Employment Programme. It comes in the form of school materials and help with tuition fees. When she imagines life without ISF’s support, Rotana sees herself with little education, working in a garment factory to support her family. Now, Rotana sees plenty of far more lucrative career opportunities in language instruction, interpretation and translation. With hope in her eyes, Rotana is enthusiastic about becoming an English teacher and opening a coffee shop in the future.