Saturday 25th November 2017

So today is Careers Fair day!! Unfortunately, Rachel had to go up to Battambang Hospital for a rabies infection after being accidentally bitten by her host family’s guard dog last night. One man down for the morning. However, my team still did really well preparations wise; we finished translating all our information leaflets, printed out 150 copies, printed out feedback forms, created a map of the Fair, printed out advertisement posters etc. The morning prep was made stressful due to technology; such as the printer not printing out our leaflets double-sided at one point.

Around 12pm, we left the office to start setting up at Chnnal Moan School, where we would be having our Careers Fair. The tent/gazebo thing that we’d hired had already been set up at the school, and with the ~120 chairs under it, it looked pretty good! It kind of reminded me of a wedding/circus/kid’s party due to its rainbow colours. I didn’t get to help set up the classrooms where we’d be holding our guest speakers because me and Kakda took a tuk-tuk to Koas Krala Highschool (KKH) to pick up the year 11s and 12s who lived further away from Chnnal Moan School.

Upon arriving at KKH (at around 12:30pm), there were no students on site. Me and Kakda started anticipating the worst; that we wouldn’t have any students at all turn up to our Careers Fair. Lol jk, whilst Kakda was freaking out, I was pretty damn chilled. I lowkey had no expectations as to how today was going to turn out, so nothing could really faze me. As long as we’ve positively impacted at least one person’s life through our time here, is all that matters.

Slowly but surely, KKH students began to appear. To the point where we had nearly 20 students in total to take to Chnnal Moan via tuk tuk! The tuk tuk was packed! I was so happy to see that the students made the effort to come. I’m so grateful for their lives!

We arrived at the Careers Fair at about 1:30pm, and by this point, all the classrooms had been cleaned and beautifully set up. Rachel was panicking and hyperventilating, (her and Cara had arrived back from Battambang whilst me and Kakda were at KKH) and was telling me how stressful setting up the classrooms had been. At this point I was grateful to have been in KKH during that time. I’m too blessed to be stressed. Santana then arrived with our speakers from Battambang (representatives from The Job Centre, TVET and NVIB mentioned at the start of this book) at around 2pm, and by this time the gazebo was packed. Every chair was filled and then some. We had about 150 people in attendance. It felt surreal. I was honestly so shocked by the turnout, I was really not expecting such a full event.

Lucky did a great job hosting the event and welcoming the guest speakers. Everything was going so smoothly. The only time I got annoyed was when Cara was trying to take control as usual, and was stressing out (thus stressing others) over the littlest things. Sighs.

Anyways, the fair officially started at 2:30pm. As with all formal events in Cambodia, we kicked off our fair by singing the Cambodian National Anthem (with us UK volunteers mumbling mumbo jumbo to the tune). The welcome talks commenced, with Lucky and Santana absolutely bossing the hosting! After the talks, the guest speakers were then led to their designated classrooms to set up their ‘stalls’ (tables covered with pretty tablecloth). The children/youth soon followed, and the careers fair got really cracking! From the onset, every single classroom was filled with students, and at some point, every speaker had a massive crown of children around their stall. The speakers consisted of a:

  • Doctor
  • Business owner (owned a shop)
  • Farmer
  • Tailor
  • Teacher
  • Government official
  • Job centre
  • University students
  • TVET
  • KAWP
  • NVIB

I can fully say that the Careers Fair was a huge success! So many young people looked really engaged, and we had a lot of the sign up for our pending trip to TVET  and the Job Centre to Battambang (about 100 young people signed up). The age range of young people at our careers fair looked like from 12-19; perfectly meeting our target. After giving the young people about 1 hour to talk to the speakers, we gave our feedback forms as the fair came to a close. I think the highlight of my day was reading the feedback forms afterwards (well, getting my counterpart Thida to translate) and seeing that ALL of the forms we got back stated they found the event useful! One in particular melted my heart. This one young person wrote that because of this event, they felt motivated to now work hard at school :’(. Things like that are the reason why I’m here. To help make a positive impact in the life of at least one person.

What an amazing day.

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Our Careers Fair ended at around 4pm. It wasn’t really a formal ending, kids just started cycling away to the next major event: the opening of the Business teams community shop!

At their community shop opening, the business team got students from their Youth Club to sell bracelets that they had made using $3 worth of material (the $3 challenge). The aim was for the students to make a profit from their bracelets.  I bought about 3 bracelets- only 3 because I’d arrived so late that all the nicest ones were gone. I bought my bracelets for 1000-1500 riel (coverts to £0.10 – £0.15p) but tbh I thought this was way too cheap and gave some of the sellers double. I would’ve bought 1 bracelet for over $1 (4000 riel). Around 4:30pm, the commune chief of the village cut the red ribbon to official open the new community shop and everyone shouted hooray!

We ended the day back at the Chnnal Moan school, cleaning all the rubbish left from the Careers Fair, then all headed to the Smoothie place near Rachels, for a victory smoothie. I just want to shoutout every single member of the VSO Koas Krala Cycle 6 team for helping us out tremendously with our preparations for the Career’s Fair. Especially the Business team!

What an amazing day.