An Update on Bunleng - University Graduate
ISF’s mission inspires the organisation’s first graduate to pay it forward.
In January of 2022, ISF’s first high school graduate received his Bachelor of Tourism and Creation Management from the National Taiwan University. Inspired by his journey with ISF, he joined the team at Formosa Budding Hope Association (FBHA) - a Taiwanese NGO that alleviates poverty through education in Cambodia, India, Vietnam, and Taiwan.
Reflecting on his youth, Bunleng shares that he often didn’t have enough to eat - his family would scavenge for food from the nearby drainage system. When financial instability forced him out of Cambodia’s education system, he fell behind his age-appropriate grade and lost hope for the future. After enrolling in Grade 3 of ISF’s Catch-Up Education Programme, Bunleng and his family received the resources, support, and mentorship to help him become one of three in ISF’s first graduating class of 2017.
After briefly studying Business Management at the University of Cambodia, Bunleng received a 50% scholarship to the National Taiwan University. Deciding to pursue his dream of studying abroad, he moved to Taiwan in 2018 - where he graduated first in his class with a handful of certifications.
Still living in Taiwan, he accepted an internship at FBHA. Currently, he supports their Siem Reap office by translating collateral and documents from Mandarin to Khmer and assisting with administrative tasks.
Although different from his initial goal of becoming a businessman, he explains: “Poverty means children can’t study in primary school. After learning the impact of their [FBHA’s] work, I wanted to get more involved. What the NGO is doing is similar to what ISF does, and by working with them, I feel that I’m paying back to others.”
As FBHA plans their 10-year exhibition in Siem Reap, Bunleng hopes he’ll be able to travel to Cambodia. He wants to encourage Cambodian students to pursue scholarship opportunities abroad and be open to finding career aspirations in different cultures. Regardless of their family background, he believes that “if you work hard, you can achieve your dreams.”
FBHA plans to expand its reach and work with different Cambodian universities to encourage students to study internationally. Aligned with Bunleng’s personal experiences and beliefs, ISF’s entire team is proud of Bunleng’s achievements and touched that the life-changing programmes have impacted him and inspired him to continue paying it forward.