SHCC Grand Opening Ceremony
Sunday 11th January 2009 was a very important day for both SHCC and This Life Cambodia to formalise and celebrate the results of an incredible 12 months of hard work! The first order of business for the day was to distribute the official SHCC t-shirts to all 400+ students and staff which look fantastic! Next up, the sports grounds of the centre were converted into the venue for the celebrations, covered in huge ceremonial tents filled with silk lined chairs for all and a stage for the visiting dignitaries. All this was offset by a huge set of speakers, of course, for the speeches and belting dance music to celebrate in true Khmer style later in the afternoon.
After the students had all gone home and changed into their new t-shirts, they returned to practice their songs before the ceremonies began. With all students, teachers, volunteers and guests seated in anticipation, the official guests arrived which included representatives from the Department of Education and Siem Reap’s Provincial Government, the Commune Chief, the Village Chief, and four Monks from the local Pagoda. After a blessing from the Monk’s, the Director of SHCC, Sambath Chourn gave the first official speech welcoming and thanking everyone for their support of SHCC. Next up, Billy gave a fantastic speech reiterating the importance of education in Cambodia and why programs like the ones delivered at SHCC are so vital, all in Khmer mind you, and then translated to English by Se! Very impressive 🙂 Then last of all, Siem Reap’s Provincial Government Officer delivered the formal opening address to much applause! The students sang beautifully as the speakers left the stage to finally cut the ribbon and declare SHCC officially open!!!!! Then it was party time 🙂
The tents were quickly converted to a dining hall to feed the 500+ guests and a fantastic lunch was served by the local families. I don’t think I’ve ever seen cooking pots quite so big! After everyone had had their fill, another quick conversion, and the tents became a dance party venue! Students, staff, volunteers, guests and the local community danced for hours and it was impossible to remove the grin off anyone’s face for at least twenty four hours! What a fabulous way to mark the achievement of This Life Cambodia’s first construction project!
This day also marked the arrival of twelve very eager volunteers from World Youth International (Australia) to complete the very last element of This Life Cambodia’s construction plan for SHCC. Stay tuned for more.
Written by Cindy Angel