Life after high school is an exciting yet scary time for many young people around the world, and our kids are no different. After extensive work experience and career counselling our young adults move off into the world of tertiary and vocational education that allows them to reach for their dreams and achieve their goals.
Our first university graduate, Boram completed his Bachelor of Business and Administration in 2017 TOP OF HIS CLASS. A high achiever in every aspect of his University Life. Upon graduating with such great results, Boram received many corporate job opportunities, instead of taking the highest salary Boram decided to 'give back' and work with us - his Green Gecko family - for one year to gain experience in a busy office and learn the ropes of managing an NGO (made all that little bit harder when it is your brother and sisters you are working with). Recently Boram spent nine months working for the very prestigious and first of its kind 'wandering hotel', 700'000 Heures Cambodia, experiencing the trials and tribulations of setting up a hotel from scratch and then working at such high end standards on a day to day basis. Now Boram has been contracted to work for a prominent Phnom Penh NGO as Community Development Manager where he combines his business education, mediation and youth leadership skills and first-hand experience to help develop and establish a new system and structure.
Completing Year 12 in 2017 at the age of 25, Kunthea was the first in her family to finish high school. Her original dream was to be a midwife but it was unexpectedly put on hold while she had to study an extra year to pass the National Medical Exam. But like many happenings at Green Gecko and as Tania always says "bigger the problem, bigger the gift", during this time Kunthea gained part time work with the Women's Resource Centre and discovered an even bigger passion for counselling and gender issues. She is now in her second year of a Diploma in Mental Health Counselling in Phnom Penh and is continuing to work for the Women's Resource Centre, Siem Reap.
Working in one of the top hotels in Siem Reap - Jaya House River Park, Srey Mao began her hospitality career in Room Service. Only two years later, Srey Mao was promoted to Guest Services and Front of House. Always being self conscious of her abilities, especially in English, Srey Mao has proven to herself and our younger Geckos that hard work, focus and a willingness to learn is just as good an education as school and university. We love visiting her and seeing her looking so professional and confident... she has even had more than a few positive mentions on Trip Advisor reviews!
Starting her tertiary education in Design, Srey Neang soon discovered that her passion for art was more in the realms of care and compassion. We soon discovered an Art Therapy NGO in Thailand, where Srey Neang was able to volunteer and learn more about how art, counselling and how they can be used side by side to improve the lives of people. On her return to Cambodia, Srey Neang was accepted into the only registered university course in Social Work and was accepted based on her past experiences and her future goals. In her first year Srey Neang was awarded SOCIAL WORK STUDENT OF THE YEAR, now in her final year, Srey Neang is continuing with short courses in Art Therapy and is looking forward to gaining her qualifications and giving back to Cambodia.
Srey was the first in her family to complete Year 12. After seeing a workshop where a physiotherapist was helping young Khmer patients, Srey knew that this was the job for her. Her hopes to see Khmers being able to access therapy to aid in their recovery and mobility, saw her apply for one of the very few courses in Phnom Penh. Srey was accepted straight away and is now a qualified physiotherapist, being head hunted by some of the best NGOs in Siem Reap.
After leaving high school in Year 10 and pursuing a career in F&B Management, Sokun realised that her passions laid elsewhere and so she returned to Year 11 at the age of 22 and became the first in her family to complete secondary school. Successfully passing the Year 12 National Certificate, Sokun then studied even harder for the compulsory National Medical Exam required to become a dentist. Sokun is now studying Dentistry at one of the best universities in Phnom Penh on a full 7 Year Scholarship, a scholarship that was awarded for her community involvement, aspirations for Cambodia and her desire to make a difference.
Wanting to work in the hospitality field, Teara left high school and was accepted into one of the local courses at a highly respected Siem Reap hotel - The Shinta Mani Foundation. Originally applying to study a Chef Apprenticeship, her English levels were so high that the career counsellors advised her to move into F&B Management instead. Our once very shy young lady has now graduated and was immediately employed by a very popular restaurant in the centre of town. Her confidence and abilities have grown and it is wonderful to see her as an integral part of her team.
Dreaming of one day opening his own restaurant with one of his fellow Gecko brothers, Naruan has just completed his chef training with one of Siem Reap's most respected training schools and social enterprises - Haven. He is now in the last stages of his training, completing a 3 month internship at one of our favourite restaurants, Pou Kitchen & Cafe, with one of our favourite local chefs, Mengly.
Showing an early interest and passion in photography and film work, Heng completed Year 9 in 2014 and was accepted by a well known photographer to complete an apprenticeship with him. Heng was selected to attend Film Making workshops and his work was one of 16 screened at the Cambodian Film Festival. Studying over two years in Siem Reap, Heng moved to Phnom Penh to work for a Cambodian Videography company. Recently returning to Siem Reap, as a father of one little boy, Heng is continuing to work in the field that he loves.
Completing Year 12 in 2019, Nang has a multitude of interests and skills, from photography to driving. Not completely sure yet what he wants to be 'when he grows up', Nang has decided to take a year off between school and university, and has found himself a job with one of the best hotels in not only Siem Reap but also Asia. Having spent numerous hours with our 'in house driving instructor Aunty Russell', Nang passed his driving test with flying colours and is now a driver for Jaya House Hotels. He also is more than happy to help out his Gecko siblings by driving our school truck, car or 5 Star when we need an extra hand for our big family.
Nott has had a long time dream of creating a community space or organisation that will help the elderly in Cambodia. Though it is expected that parents will be looked after by their children, this is sadly often not the case. But where does one even start to begin or train for this concept in Cambodia? Nott has decided to apply to one of the best NGOs in Siem Reap who work with families who have children with disabilities and learning difficulties. Beating a number of university qualified applicants, Nott, who has just completed Year 12, impressed the team so much that they offered her a job. Nott is now learning about how an organisation can support families that need to work with health problems, disabilities and how work out an appropriate care plan. Learning how physiotherapy, speech therapy and the right support can change a family's life is a great base for Nott's future dreams.
Srey Roat is our great role model for 'if you don't succeed the first time, try, try again'! Just missing out on passing her Grade 12 National Certificate in 2017 (we put it down to extreme nerves), Srey Roat took the opportunity to give it another go! And boy did she pass! 2018 saw her achieve an outstanding National Exam score, pass the very challenging National Medical Exams AND receive a 75% Scholarship to join her Gecko sister at the University of Puthisastra in PP, studying Dentistry. Now in her second year (after passing her first year with flying colours), Srey Roat is showing her siblings that giving up is not an option and that second chances should be grabbed!
Deciding that Grade 12 or University wasn't something Somnang wanted to pursue, Somnang decided to try out our Work Experience Program early to work out what she did want to do. She had two passions... Baking and Children! Somnang was lucky enough to be accepted at a very reputable bakery in town to have 3 months work experience in the area of Cake Making & Decorating. Next was to try a placement at one of the International Nursery Schools in Siem Reap, experiencing roles in the Babies Room, Toddler Room and the older children. After 6 months of work experience, Somnang decided that she LOVED baking as a hobby, but would love to work with children. She was quickly snapped up by the school and has been there for over a year now, being promoted from Teacher's Assistant to Teacher in the Babies Room.
Academics... Football... Music... Larn has talents in many areas, but in the end Academics won out. He has just started his first year at Norton University, Phnom Penh, studying Engineering. Hoping that after his Foundation Year that he will be able to move into the specialised area Civil Engineering, we are also hoping that Larn might be able to find a solution to Cambodia's terrible road situation and the pot holes that you have to watch out for. Not long in PP, Larn has already found the local football field and has taken up his guitar to entertain his Gecko Siblings in their shared house.