U.S. Embassy, Phnom Penh
June 14, 2007
Ambassador Mussomeli (far left) and
H.E. Dr. Kol Pheng (far right) pose for
a group photo with the ten new
Cambodian Fulbright students. Full Size
The U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh recently conducted a pre-departure orientation for 10 new Cambodians who will pursue graduate degrees in the U.S. under the auspices of the Fulbright Fellowship Program. They will join 9 other Cambodian Fulbright students currently in the U.S. for a total of 19 Cambodian students studying under the Fulbright program in 2007-2008. Guests of honor for the opening ceremony were U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia, Joseph A. Mussomeli; H.E. Dr. Kol Pheng, Senior Minister and Minister of Education, Youth and Sports; Mr. Men Nimmith, President of the Fulbright Alumni Association of Cambodia; and Ms. Dy Koekunthea, Fulbright student representative. After the opening ceremony, the new students and their parents had the opportunity to discuss living and studying in the U.S. with current and former Fulbright grantees.
The Fulbright Fellowship Program was established by the U.S. Congress in 1945 as a means “to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.” The Fulbright Program was re-instituted in Cambodia in 1994. Since that time, 84 Cambodian students have pursued programs of graduate study in the U.S. and more than 40 American Senior Scholars and Specialists have traveled to Cambodia to teach in Cambodian universities and assist with curriculum development.
In his remarks, Ambassador Mussomeli told the students, “You are about to embark on an adventure that will change your lives. Not only will you pursue an academic program that will strengthen your personal skills and development, you will also serve as cultural ambassadors to the United States during your time there, working to increase American understanding of Cambodia…. [E]ach American that meets you will be impressed and will want to learn more about you and your country. Each of you will help build mutual respect through education and through relationship building. You will join students from around the world, learning from them as they will learn from you. After returning to Cambodia upon completion of your studies, you will then be able to share your experiences and impressions of the U.S. with your fellow countrymen. Many people will benefit from this opportunity of yours. Your role as cultural ambassadors is an important one.”
The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation from Congress to the Department of State. For 2007, the U.S. State Department increased the allocation for the Fulbright Program in Cambodia to $500,000. Additionally, U.S. universities that will host Cambodian Fulbright students for the 2007-2008 academic year will contribute an additional $275,000 in scholarships, bringing the total value of the Fulbright Program for Cambodia to $775,000.
Fulbright Student Fellowship grants provide round-trip transportation to the United States, and tuition, fees and living expenses for full-time graduate study. The application process to become a Cambodian Fulbright Scholar begins in March each year with Embassy staff conducting information sessions on the process at universities throughout Cambodia.
To be eligible for the Fulbright program, applicants must:
have a strong academic background and a record of excellence in previous studies;
have completed a Bachelor’s degree from a recognized college or university;
be proficient in English (minimum TOEFL score 550);
be able to adapt readily to a foreign environment; and
be in good health and able to undergo a rigorous study program.
Also on the Fulbright program in 2007-2008, two (2) American Scholars will travel to Cambodia to assist with curriculum development at the Royal University of Phnom Penh in radio journalism and education management. And for the first time ever, four (4) American students will come to Cambodia to conduct research.
Since its establishment, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 250,000 participants, chosen for their leadership potential, with the opportunity to observe each others’ political, economic and cultural institutions, exchange ideas, and embark on joint ventures of importance to the general welfare of the world’s inhabitants. Fulbright alumni populate an entire range of professions and include heads of state, cabinet ministers, ambassadors, Members of Congress, judges, heads of corporations, university presidents, journalist, artists, professors, and teachers. Actor John Lithgow, composer Philip Glass, opera singer Renee Fleming and economist Joseph Stiglitz are among notable former American grantees.
In Cambodia, several Fulbright alumni are working in key positions in the Ministries of Finance, Agriculture and Natural Resources Preservation, and Interior. Many others are lecturers at different universities and national program officers for a variety of international and non-governmental organizations.
2007-2008 Cambodian Fulbright Student Grantees
Ms. Dy Koekunthea - Public Health, University of Alabama Birmingham
Ms. Keo Kalyan - Public Administration, Syracuse
Mr. Poev Vathana - Structural Engineering, Virginia Tech
Mr. Seang Soleak - Journalism, University of Kansas
Mr. Heng Piphal - Archaeology, University of Hawaii, Manoa
Ms. Dek Dary - Media and Communication, Emerson College
Mr. Chou Huot - International Relations, Syracuse University
Ms. Ong Bopha - Educational Administration, SUNY Buffalo
Ms. Pou Pichrachana - MBA-Finance, University of Akron
Mr. Thy Khemra - Eonomics, New York University
Mr. Ann Sovatha - Anthropology, Northern Illinois University
Mr. Chan Virak - TESL, San Jose State University
Ms. Chea Chou - Communications, Michigan State University
Ms. Eng Sereikhuoch - MBA, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Mr. In Vichea - Education, Indiana University
Mr. Khieng Sothy - International Development Studies, Ohio University
Ms. Noun Monisophorn - MBA, Brandeis University
Mr. Peou Chivoin - Media Theory and Research, Florida A&M University
Mr. Teng Somongkol - Education, Boston College