1 August – 7 August 2014 – Two International Medical University (IMU) second year students in the medicine programme, Jimmy Toh Tinrui and Carin Ooi Hui Ling, attended the 5th University Scholars Leadership Symposium (USLS) in the city of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. More than 600 young delegates from as many as 47 countries took part in the seven-day symposium, where they enthusiastically exchanged ideas and views on issues pertaining to world poverty such as the lack of education, clean water crises, hunger, human right issues and et cetera. The 5th University Scholars Leadership Symposium was organised by Humanitarian Affairs United Kingdom. The Symposium, themed “Dream It, Plan It, Do It” had a humanitarian tone, with the aim of raising awareness of world poverty and alleviating efforts among the next generation of leaders, and also providing them with an understanding of how to distinguish themselves as future leaders of the 21st century by obtaining the right set of skills and valuable perspectives to give these participants an edge over everyone else. The Cambodian Prime Minister H.E Hun Sen and his deputy HE Dr Sok An were also present at the closing and opening ceremony respectively. One of the participants from IMU, Jimmy Toh, said, “Included in the programme was an amazing ‘Experiential Learning Journey’ where we spent a day doing humanitarian works at various NGOs in Cambodia. We had the opportunity to meet local children and teenagers at schools and learning centres set up by these NGOs, and were also involved in works such as building roofs, painting classrooms, cooking and cleaning, teaching and interacting with the underprivileged.”
“Back home where education, healthcare, clean water and food are provided in abundance, we could never imagine the living conditions that a large portion of the Cambodian population are still living in. Though rapidly recovering from the Khmer Rouge era (1970s) and the Vietnamese Occupation (1979-1993), many of the Cambodian people are still haunted by the war and massive killings of educated people that wiped out one third of their population. Hence, some are still afraid of receiving education, especially in rural parts of the country. There are many children, especially girls, out there who are denied the chance of learning and are forced to work in farms or beg on the streets to help support the family. NGOs have resorted to paying the families with rice in exchange of permission from these families to allow their children a chance to go to school.”
Soun Vibol, a 17-year old teenager from the Science Of Life Studies 24/7 (SOLS 24/7) Learning Centre (NGO) who has been learning English for only 4 months, shared with Jimmy in moderately fluent English “Thank you for coming, I want to see the world too, I heard Malaysia is a great place to live in, and I wish to work there as an English Teacher in the future, that is why I am working so hard to learn the language”
“After spending only one day at a local learning center by an NGO (SOLS 24/7), the resilience, optimism, and strength shown in the hard working children and teenagers who refuse to waste a single opportunity to learn was truly awe-inspiring and they set an example for us to follow. However, beyond the beautiful smiles of these children and teenagers, we could see an extremely adverse path into their futures, and we realized that there must be something that we privileged young adults from all over the world could come together and do something to help them build a brighter future.”
“We must have a balance in life. It’s pointless living an unfulfilled life. We must make it a point to give back to others, especially to the underprivileged, irrespective of strata and religion.” – M Singh, Founder of SOLS 24/7” Following the experiential learning journey, the participants had sessions with world class inspirational speakers, CNN Heroes, TED Speakers and many others.Through the speeches and discussions, the participants not only gained precious insight into many issues associated with war and poverty around the world and the humanitarian efforts that are currently being provided, but also ways to develop themselves as a leader and to find their own calling to make a positive difference in the future, sowing the seed of change.
“My seven-day journey in Cambodia was an enriching one. Though only a short period, I learnt more about myself and also the world around me. Being able to meet other enthusiastic young leaders from different fields around the world itself was an experience of its kind, we exchanged cultures and ideas and got the opportunity to meet people who share the same vision as ourselves. I really feel inspired to work hard and find my calling to make a positive change in our society. I would like to thank IMU for this, and would also like to encourage my friends in IMU to actively participate in humanitarian works not just in Malaysia but also around the world, and to take the opportunity to see the world and enrich themselves with what the textbooks cannot teach.”
Click here to watch the 5th USLS Video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=3MDGNNheDCs