U.S. Embassy Conducts Workshop on Educational Exchange Programs

Over 400 students packed the University of Cambodia (UC) Conference Center on November 30, 2010, to participate in a workshop conducted by the United States (U.S.) Embassy Phnom Penh Public Affairs Office.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Peter Tan Keo, Vice President for Strategy, Development, and International Cooperation, focused on UC’s commitment to investing in its students and furthering empirical research at the university, and also encouraged students to “become leaders among leaders.”

“The growth of this country relies heavily on your investment to this country, and that’s your responsibility and challenge,” Mr. Keo stated. “It is also one reason why UC is investing in you.”

UC is also committed to encouraging life-long learning, and supports educational opportunities like the ones discussed in this workshop. “Life-long learning will only make you better, and what makes you better will make this country better,” asserted Mr. Keo.

Mr. Bun Sambath, Alumni Coordinator from the U.S. Embassy, delivered a presentation on scholarship opportunities available to UC students for studies in the United States. Prior to the presentation, he expressed appreciation for the strong relationship between UC and the U.S. Embassy.

“UC has been a good partner with the U.S. Embassy,” Mr. Bun said, “and we have sent UC students to study and do research in educational programs in the United States.” Mr. Bun highlighted two programs with approaching application deadlines: the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program (UGRAD) and the Study of U.S. Institutes for Student Leaders (SUSI). The UGRAD program provides outstanding undergraduates with a scholarship to study at a non-degree program at an accredited U.S. institution for one semester to one academic year. Students can study a variety of fields, except medicine, nursing, veterinary medicine, pharmacology, and animal care. SUSI is a five-week program that provides high-achieving undergraduate student leaders with a deeper understanding of the United States and leadership skills. Mr. Bun emphasized that the SUSI program will emphasize environmental issues this year.

To be competitive for these scholarship opportunities, according to Mr. Bun, students should have high GPAs and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores, strong letters of recommendations from university faculty members and volunteer organizations, and well-written and thoughtful statements of purpose. Students should also fill out applications carefully, and research and reflect upon their reasons for wanting these opportunities.

“Think carefully about what you hope to learn from these programs,” suggested Mr. Keo, “but also think about what you will do with that new knowledge when you come back to Cambodia. How will it contribute to Cambodia’s development?” Moreover, Mr. Bun emphasized that leadership skills have become a key priority for scholarship competitiveness at the U.S. Embassy and other institutions. Successful students will be able to demonstrate strong leadership skills through their extracurricular activities on campus or through their volunteer work. And writing about these skills is not enough, according to Mr. Bun, who said that students must also be able to demonstrate these skills during the interview process.

Offering more advice to students, Mr. Bun said, “Remember that in these programs you are an Ambassador of Cambodia. That is why community involvement and critical thinking skills are important factors for these programs.”
Students who are interested in any of the educational exchange programs offered by the U.S. Embassy should check their eligibility and for application details on the following website: http://cambodia.usembassy.gov.