Learning today, leading tomorrow

Journeys Within Our Community (JWOC) begins and ends with the community.

We seek to empower low-income Cambodians to lead their communities by providing educational and personal development opportunities, inspiring a mindset of co-responsibility and social service.

Based on the principle of ‘Learning Today, Leading Tomorrow,’ our focus is education, including opportunities at local universities, JWOC’s Community Center, and in the villages surrounding Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Over the years, we have learned that focusing on education is where we can make the greatest difference in helping those struggling to better their future and become leaders in their community. Our vision is a Cambodian society with empowered individuals, families, and communities who value education and act with a strong sense of social responsibility.

Below, a recent graduate and a staff member of JWOC share their stories.

Phally gazes out at waterfall Phally is a new graduate from the University of South East Asia in Hotel and Tourism Management. (Photo: Journeys Within Our Community)

Chum Reap Sure [Cambodian greeting],

I am Phally and I am a fresh graduate from the University of Southeast Asia in Hotel and Tourism Management.

The past four years at JWOC have helped me in so many different ways. I first heard about JWOC from a friend who was a JWOC scholarship student; she encouraged me to come to JWOC and apply, and I was so happy when I received a scholarship!

During my time as a student, I joined the Community Support Program as a facilitator. This program made me more confident as I had to deliver trainings and work with people who were older than me. I was able to have stronger communication with others because I was always working with a large group of people.

Two women at JWOC JWOC believes that focusing on education is where they can make the greatest difference. (Photo: Journeys Within Our Community)

This program also taught me how to analyze data, as we are constantly collecting surveys, and in this way, I was able to understand how important it is for your work to always have a positive impact.

One of the biggest lessons I learned from the Community Support Program was teamwork. I made close friendships with other students after working together for the past four years; we also came to respect each other as well.

Now when I go to the villages to work, I do not consider it work, but I feel as though I am going to see my friends and I always enjoy myself.

Phally and coworker hold sign Phally says one of the biggest lessons she learned from the Community Support Program was teamwork. (Photo: Journeys Within Our Community)
These past four years hold many different memories. I really enjoyed the workshops because I was able to learn new skills which I now use for my work. I have had the best experience being a JWOC Scholarship student and I can honestly say JWOC is my second family.

For all the new scholarship students who will join the program, make sure you work hard. JWOC is not a hard place but it will push you to grow and learn more. Be friendly to each other, and make sure you are committed to the work you do and to your education.

I will miss JWOC, but I know wherever I go, it will always be in my heart.

Thida is our newest addition to the JWOC Staff as the Scholarship Coordinator. She comes with a deep knowledge of working with women’s rights groups and differently abled people. Thida enjoys connecting with the community and ensuring that no one is left behind. Below, Thida shares memories her first 3 months at JWOC.

Thida with students Thida came to JWOC with a deep knowledge of working with women’s rights groups and differently abled people. (Photo: Journeys Within Our Community)

What attracted you to working at JWOC?

JWOC works very closely with the community, basing their work on what the community needs. They give students the opportunities to grow in different sectors and become well-rounded students. That really stood out to me.

You studied accounting at school, is that what you hoped to do when you were younger?

Not exactly, no. I knew I wanted to work closely with the community and help them especially in terms of education.

What legacy would you like to leave behind for the Scholarship Students?

Firstly, finish your studies and graduate! Achieve your goal of pursuing higher education! That’s the most important thing. Secondly, try and live a sustainable life where you are always giving back.

You’ve been here for three months now. Is there something that you have learned?

I have learned a lot in the past three months; this is my first job working in the education sector so there has been a lot of learning! One thing that has stuck out to me has been the responsibility I have to the scholarship students and the community as a whole.

In one of our past team meetings, we did a stakeholder analysis of all the people who are affected by the scholarship program at JWOC and it really opened my eyes to how many people I am accountable to.

It gave me the motivation to keep working harder, because the effect quality education has on the community is endless!

Two women sit in chairs JWOC's vision is a Cambodian society with empowered individuals, families and communities. (Photo: Journeys Within Our Community

What has been your favorite things about JWOC so far?

I felt so warmly welcomed by the JWOC team. I have a wonderful relationship with everyone here. I really enjoy the team lunches as we can all just joke around and share food together.

I also feel comfortable to voice any struggles I have with the team. The environment is so friendly — I really do feel as though I am part of the team!

These stories were previously published on the JWOC blog.

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Journeys Within Our Community (JWOC) is a non-profit organization working in Southeast Asia to improve living conditions of local communities through health, education, economic, and emergency relief projects.

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