RWI Scholarship Holders Win National Debate Competition

Three RWI scholarship holders recently won the national rounds of the JCI Debate Competition under “the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals” theme.

The winning team consisted of Ms. Yi Muyleng, Ms. Sreng Thida, and Ms. Chea Sokuntheany.

They will now represent Cambodia at the 2016 JCI Asia-Pacific Public Speaking and Debate Contest to be held early in June in Taiwan. If they win the Asia-Pacific round, they will represent that region globally in the JCI World Public Speaking Championship in Canada.

Annual scholarships to women in Cambodia

On an annual basis, RWI provides scholarships to eight female students from disadvantaged backgrounds to study law at the English Language-Based Bachelor of Law (ELBBL) at the Royal University of Law and Economics (RULE) in Cambodia.

The scholarships are combined with monthly sessions on human rights at RWI’s office during lunch-time. Ms. Muyleng, Ms. Thida, and Ms. Sokuntheany are all part of the first batch of female students that were awarded scholarships within this initiative (2013). They will graduate this year.

“Already at the very competitive scholarship selection process three years ago, these students stood out, particularly during the interviews,” said Andreas Ljungholm, Head of RWI’s office in Phnom Penh. “Their commitment to study law and their interest in human rights are extraordinary. We are very happy to have supported them throughout their studies.”

Mr. Sokseila Bun, RWI Programme officer, who has followed the students closely over three years and coordinates the initiative, says, “It is indeed a very happy day for the students, RWI and ELBBL/RULE.”

“This victory shows that the students are not only very knowledgeable, but also have committed to work very hard. We wish them all the best of luck in the Asia-Pacific round in Taiwan next month.”

Below  you can read a letter from the three students

2016 JCI Debate Championship Report

Words cannot fully express our gratitude to RWI for providing us a full three-year scholarship to enable us to undertake a law degree in the English Language Based Bachelor of Law Programme (ELBBL) at Royal University of Law and Economics (RULE).

The scholarship is truly a life-changing opportunity for us because RWI has empowered us, as female students, to fight against the age-old concept that women should not pursue higher education.

Further to this encouragement, RWI has also provided us with special trainings related to human rights in the context of Cambodia and international human rights law which enable us to grasp and understand in-depth human rights issues facing Cambodia and the world in a bigger picture. It has also been our great pleasure to join each meeting with RWI and receive trainings from renown professors and guest speakers.

We are thus deeply thankful to RWI, and we highly appreciate the financial and technical supports provided to us, young Cambodian female students, to pursue higher education at a leading law programme in Cambodia.

With the same token, we are also grateful for the ELBBL that has been guiding us to the right path. ELBBL helps us to realise our future goals and potential. Furthermore, as ELBBL recruited lecturers with full professional skills and experience, we are able to receive a great amount of legal knowledge and critical thinking skills that we cannot learn from elsewhere in Cambodia. ELBBL, in partnership with international and regional universities as well as international law competition organisers, has also brought students equal opportunities to compete in prestigious international moot competitions every year; for instance, Jean-Pictet, in which we all tried to participate this year. In addition to international moot competitions, ELBBL encouraged us to compete in the 2016 JCI Public Speaking and Debating Championship as a debate team to debate on themes relating to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Throughout the preparation stage for the competition, ELBBL actively cheered and supported us. We thus would like to sincerely thank ELBBL faculty for their time and efforts in helping us to succeed in this debate competition as well as for assisting us with our other academic endeavours.

It was tough yet an exciting experience to join the JCI debate competition. We, as a team, had to work very hard for the training and researching for this debate. ELBBL provided us with helpful and necessary trainings as well as useful advices for debating. In the meantime, we have built up a strong team spirit which constitutes one of the core factors to enable us to win this championship. None of us have any experience with public debate or have been on stage in front of thousands of people before.

What helped us prepared and gained more self-confidence were how we arranged regular meetings together as well as with the coaches and then steadily worked on our weaknesses with the comments from each other and the coaches. It was such a big challenge to undertake a wide research on the 17 United Nations SDGs, given the short preparation time. However, we did not feel discouraged at all. Instead, we kept trying with hope because we believed that everything could be achieved through hard work.

We are very pleased with our recent success and will work harder to represent ELBBL, RULE and ultimately Cambodia at the 2016 JCI Asia-Pacific Public Speaking and Debating Contest to be held in early June in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Phnom Penh, 26 April 2016

Sreng Thida, Yi Muy Leng, Chea Sokuntheany

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