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The Refurbishing Project – Final Reflection

School made mobile stand
Rocking in Cambodia
Swamped by interested students
Meeting the local Governor (4th from right)
A training session at Santhormuk HS, Phnom Penh
Excited children at the Unacas orphanage

Ten screens in nine schools over six days.

And with that, the project was completed.

Thankfully, we’d had no major problems during the in country installs with Veasna being able to overcome any minor issues we had with his ingenuity, skill, and patience. The main problems we encountered were more along the lines of where the principals of the schools wanted the screens mounted and we had to ensure that the wall-space was suitable for the 75” screens to be placed safely. As most of the locations we installed the screens at were built with similar methods and materials, the installs were completed quickly and efficiently once we gained familiarity with each other, the tools, and the spaces we were working in.

Measuring for bracket install
Veasna's solution to limit movement of the screen

Each screen was received gratefully by the staff and students and the looks of excitement as they were installed made the whole thing worthwhile. Their excitement grew as they began seeing how the screens worked and heard about the possibilities when using various freely available software with a connected PC. The only time I saw hesitancy from a teacher was when, at Santhormuk High School, one questioned what I was showing them as this was not the way they teach in Cambodia. I explained that I wasn’t there to change the way they teach, more that it was to enhance what they did by showing the possibilities in using the screen in the classroom to create more engaging content. His stance then rapidly changed as he began to understand that this was a tool to supplement his teaching, rather than hinder or dramatically change it.

Siem Reap and Phnom Penh are two very interesting, but highly contrasting cities that speak volumes for where Cambodia has been and is heading to. The former is still very much a rural city with more traditional (for Cambodia) stores and markets with a much more rural lifestyle with the city almost asleep during the hot days and coming to life at night. The latter is becoming very much a modernised Asian city, that I wonder if the population there is grappling with that change. There are pockets of extreme wealth and displays of that wealth such as very high-end vehicles across the city, while still having visible reminders of the country’s poverty and older lifestyle with examples such as women pulling a cart with wares to sell on the street that are highlights of this contrast. Those in the ACC project team who have been coming to Cambodia for the last 10-20 years have said that in the last 5-10 years the change in the city has been rapid and expansive. Many recall even 5 years ago, very few high-rise buildings in the city, but now the city skyline is covered with them.  It made me think about where it will be in another 5 years and it will be interesting to go back in the future to see that change.

Phnom Penh skyline

As I flew back from Cambodia, I was struck by how strongly the country had affected me in such a positive way. Everything from the people to the food and the landscapes has had such a vivid impact on my view of the country and changed my perceptions of what I thought it would be. My knowledge of the country was based on history that clearly the country is moving on from, but still face issues due to the events that occurred only a generation ago. I felt that I would be far more uncomfortable there than what I actually experienced, and in fact, I was so welcomed there that those feelings were very quickly abandoned and replaced with a strong affection for the place.

Technology Core as a company could not be more pleased with the results of the project than they are. To be involved with such a worthwhile project to increase the outcomes for students in areas that may not get those opportunities has been a privilege. We are very thankful to the ACC for the work that they have done in organising the project logistics of getting the screens to the schools ready for our install work and I hope we have the chance to work together again to make the project bigger in the future.

Personally, I want to thank Andrew and Christine for giving me the opportunity to take this trip, the ACC for welcoming me as part of their team, our manufacturing partner Kelvin for assisting with getting screens to Cambodia, and Sun Veasna for his amazing work at every school we visited to get the installs completed quickly with his good humour and ability to share his knowledge of Cambodia and its history.

At the end of it all, my hope is that we can continue this work and build a bigger project in 2025.

Teaching staff at Northline school Phnom Penh
The ACC group at lunch in Kra Lanh
Training local teachers in the Kra Lanh area
Year 4 students at the Learning Lab

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Peter Merrick

Peter Merrick

Born able to speak, Peter is a gifted orator who can impart wisdom with a wit and gravitas that has made him the darling of the technical education set. Peter has an extensive background in working in roles that he made his own and became a legend amongst his peers.

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