Funding for SEALNet
Organized by: Long Dang
Hello everyone, My name is Long Dang and I’m a second-year at the University of Chicago. This summer, I am participating as a mentor in SEALNet’s project Cambodia 2016 – Phnom Penh. I am writing this to provide information about the project and to seek your financial support.
SEALNet is a nonprofit organization created in 2004 with the aim of improving the living conditions in South East Asia as well as promoting the spirit of leadership among students in the region. This year, SEALNet Project Cambodia 2016 – Phnom Penh (PC16PP) is one of SEALNet’s projects.
With the theme “Inspiration”, PC16PP aims to bring about changes in the educational situation of children living in slums in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Many of these underprivileged children do have access to education through NGOs’ support, but are unfortunately unable to make use of that support. This is because they do not yet see the value of education and instead prefer to earn fast money on the streets. PC16PP aims to instill in the children a passion for learning by equipping them with essential skills and engage them in fun, educational activities such as painting, drawing, coding and role playing etc.
In 2014, several friends and I co-founded project HOPE (Hanoi Operation for Public Education) in Hanoi, Vietnam. Because awareness about autism in Vietnam remained lacking, we hoped to raise more awareness about mental conditions and to show that autistic children are capable of so much more. In this project, I worked with some of the children at Phuc Tue village. My experience at Phuc Tue has made me realize the beauty and capabilities of autistic children and underprivileged groups lay within, which differed from mainstream perceptions of them. These children are capable of so much more than they or society might think.
I intend to bring the skills, experiences and perspectives I gained through HOPE to continue working with underprivileged children in Phnom Penh. As a mentor, I will work with both the slum children and mentees from Vietnam (who are high school students). On one hand, I and my fellow mentors intend to help the children realize the vast opportunities that education brings. Not only through emotional support but also through fun activities, workshops, story-telling and mentorship, we hope to provide them with a more positive outlook on education and on society. On the other hand, I will work with 2 mentees from Vietnam to assist them in terms of leadership and personal development. After the project, those mentees will have hopefully gained valuable skills and a concrete understanding about the issue to return and support similar communities at their locations. I think my experience with the project will allow me to gain a more well-rounded understanding of sidelined groups besides autistic children, and provide me with important insights for my work in public policy in the future.
After my 1st year at UChicago, I have realized that an important part of education is gaining a passion for learning with the aim of creating social changes. On the individual level, it is quite difficult to create widespread and lasting changes. But on a collective level, profound and grass-root changes are possible. In the project, it is not enough for us to merely equip the children with knowledge they can gain in a normal classroom context. Such knowledge will probably go by too fast and the children would go back to spending their days on the streets after the project has elapsed. I instead think that we can create long-term and structural changes if we are able to inspire the children to learn. Once they have gained a passion for learning, they will continue their education for many years after the project. This education can then serve as a catalyst so the children themselves can create social changes. Working together, the children might be able to bring changes to their country and to the world at large.
As SEALNet PC16PP is a student based project, we need your financial support. I have been asked to fundraise $350 individually. I would really appreciate it if you could make donations so that the project could be fully realized. Any amount would help, and if you are unable to make donations, that is fine too! In that case, please help me spread the words so that more and more people know about our cause and project.
Check us out at http://www.sealnetonline.org/current-projects/pcpp16/
Thank you very much!