Writing Through Workshops

Cambodia remains a rural country and must deal with great inequality as economic growth mainly benefits the urban population. The “Writing Through” programme allows underprivileged Cambodian students to improve their English language skills through creative writing workshops that emphasise conceptual thinking and enhance self-confidence.

In these workshops students have the chance to developing their talents outside of standard education – a prospect they otherwise would not have the chance to hone. 

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Writing Through (WT) is a registered charity in the United States. Together, Children of the Mekong and Writing Through believe that today’s world demands more from its citizens than an ability to parrot information. Engaged and contributing citizens of the world need to be able to think conceptually and critically, to know what they believe and have the confidence and poise to be able to stand up and say it in their own voices.

The education system was torn apart by the Khmer Rouge regime of the 1970’s causing the level of Cambodian schools to be very low. Schools were closed, teachers were executed, making room for new schools who would only teach Khmer rouge propaganda where literacy was severely neglected. 

Nowadays, only 2.7% of the Cambodian GDP is allocated to education, and this education often focuses on strictly academic subjects such as Maths. Rural areas are marginalised. While the current government is making efforts to better the education system, progress is slow to come. Indeed, as of now, the Cambodian teaching system is mainly based on memorisation, learning things by heart, without necessarily explaining or understanding them. 

This is where the “Writing Through” programme comes in, providing students with the opportunity to improve their English language skills through creative writing workshops and command of the English language by expressing their ideas in English creatively. Beneficiaries also become more self-confident by articulating their thoughts and opinions in front of a group. They will become more employable young individuals given their increased fluency in English and their boost in self-esteem as a result of public speaking.

Through helping children craft their own poems and stories, Writing Through enables them to gradually increase their fluency in English, develop abstract concepts that remain difficult to articulate through everyday language alone, and improve their self-confidence by discovering that all thoughts and feelings have value.

During the six-day writing module, young people learn to trust in their inspiration, their talent, and their ability to express themselves in a foreign language. Above all, they learn to respect each other’s ideas, values, dreams and hopes for the future. At the end of the module, a magazine of the children’s work is published. Their very own magazine, a source of great joy and pride for the children… and us too. There can be no better way to help these children break out of poverty than by helping them find their voice.