The individual support given to Sala Baï students by a team of five social workers is one of the key factors underlying their success, support that has been facilitated by the grouping of all students in the same dormitories. A social worker and a student give us their views.
Sala Baï students come from extremely poor families and are often still living at home in rural areas before their arrival at the school. They are confronted with a world that is totally foreign to them, i.e. the world of luxury hotels. Agir pour le Cambodge and the Sala Baï team make it their mission to give students all the support they need so that they are able to meet the challenges facing them with aplomb!
Reatrey, a Front Office student from Intake XVII, tells us about her experience of this new environment. “Living away from my family has been a big change in my life. In the beginning, it wasn’t easy for me to leave them behind when I left Oddar Meanchey [province close to the Thai border]. But living under the same roof as my classmates, we’ve created a new family atmosphere. I mean that we share a lot with each other, not just the same house! For example, it’s really great to talk to them when I get back from a day at the hotel where I’m an intern, to talk about what we’ve learnt, how to overcome our difficulties and dream about our future careers! We can also count on Mr. Vimol [former student who’s now a social worker] whose apartment is in the same building as ours, and our teachers whose doors are always open and who help us to do a good job during our internships”.
For Bounty Tan, our social worker coordinator, the individual support of students is an essential complement to their vocational training. “For our team, it’s not just about training students to do a job, but about guiding 150 young people towards autonomy by supporting them throughout the whole process. To do this, we need to create a climate of trust and attentiveness which is achieved through workshops where each individual gets a turn to express him- or herself. Self-confidence and the acceptance of differences and difficulties are all factors in the personal development of our students which will enable them to thrive and flourish”.
The opening of the dormitories has proved to be a major advantage for providing this support as all of our students and a social worker are now housed in the same place, just adjacent to the school. This means that the social workers see more of students on a daily basis and it’s much easier for students to ask for support. The dormitories make it easier to monitor students in addition to providing them with greater security and comfort.
This set-up is also very effective when students are doing their internships as they are able to come ‘home’ after work to a communal environment and familiar surroundings. This support is very important as it helps them to get the most out of their months of training, to give their best during their internships and ensures their optimal integration in the workplace at the end of the year.