Lim Houng, a College of Law student, jointly organized and facilitated a collaborative discussion between University of Cambodia (UC) students and students from Hiroshima University of Economics (HUE) on September 16, 2010. Professor Kenichi Kawamura of HUE and seven of his students visited the UC campus to receive feedback from students on their educational project. A small team of dedicated UC students (Seng Leab, Chin Tyheng, Sok Eng, Yang Leaphea, Chhiv Chhunhak, Tep Kongkearpachapor, and Keo Buntheng) split into two small groups to review the work of the Japanese students and offered their insights.
Under the guidance of Professor Kawamura, the Japanese college students and a group of their peers at HUE have created a textbook they hope to distribute to primary and secondary schools in March 2011, with a Japanese version for students in Japan and a Khmer version for students in Cambodia. The textbook targets 13- to 15-year-olds and is completely written and edited by the Japanese students. UC student Lim Houng helped translate the book from Japanese to Khmer.
“The project aims to teach Japanese youth about their culture and history through an exploration of their identity,” said Professor Kawamura. “It’s through their experiences.”
The textbook covers four main themes: business, economics, lifestyle, and education. Students worked with local Japanese students, teachers, and community members to create sections of the textbook, and the resulting passages are a collection of their experiences and understanding.
The project has several goals, including promoting cultural pride and sharing knowledge and history with the youth. Professor Kawamura shared that their team came up with this idea after a visit to Cambodia, where they noticed a lack of textbooks in rural schools. The students also noticed that young Cambodians and Japanese “do not read often for leisure or even for learning,” so they created a textbook they believe young people will want to read. They hope to encourage reading among adolescents in Asia through this textbook, which is “written by young people for young people.”.
The collaboration between UC students and the Japanese students represented part of phase one for the project. Phase two will include distribution of the textbooks and training to teach teachers and students how to effectively utilize this resource within a classroom. The Japanese team hopes to create a similar textbook based on Cambodia for distribution in this country and in Japan in the near future.
At the end of the discussion, Professor Kawamura and his students graciously thanked the UC team of students, who provided valuable feedback to the Japanese team.
“This was very productive for the Japanese students to meet my peers here at UC, and we hope to continue this collaboration in the future,” stated Lim Houng.
Student-driven projects like this provide our students an opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills in the real world and with tangible benefits to society, including personal growth and relationship-building. Their efforts and commitment to knowledge sharing and cultural understanding are admirable, and the hope is that more student-led initiatives take place at UC so students can explore new learning opportunities outside of the classroom.
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