After having given you news about Sok Tith a few months ago, we now present the journey of another former student, Vichheka. The 23 year-old woman goes back in time to tell us about her history with Taramana, which started fourteen years ago.
An older former student among the old alumni…
Vichheka, then just 8 years old, joined Taramana back in 2006, only one year after the official creation of the Association. “I was in grade 2 [equivalent to CE1 in France] in public school. With my six brothers and sisters, we couldn’t take additional language courses because my family couldn’t afford to enroll us in a public school,” she tells us, before continuing: “At the time, the current centre didn’t exist. Taramana helped poor families by distributing rice and paying or providing medical care. Then, they rented a small house to give language courses. That’s where I was able to start learning English and French“. Vichheka is therefore part of the very first generation of French-speaking students in Taramana.
She tells us the reasons that motivated her to learn the language of Molière up until the end of her schooling at the Centre: “I told myself that it would be easier to find a job if I mastered French, given that at that time few people my age spoke that language in Cambodia“. Still very young, she was already thinking about her future. But I also loved the language itself,” she adds. I also wanted to discover France, and I had the opportunity to do so thanks to the theatre!” Like Dara and Vuthny, Vichheka went on tour with Les Petits Chenapans, the French-speaking theatre company led by Jocelyn Dordé, founder of Taramana. She looks back fondly on this experience.
Fourteen years of memorable memories
“I loved this trip to France. We performed our play in many different places. At first I was a bit scared when I went on stage but little by little I got used to it. We also made a lot of visits. On the other hand, it was a little too cold for me and it gave me a headache… But I would still like to go back there” she assures us. “Theatre was my favourite activity at the centre, along with Apsara [traditional Khmer dance] classes.
What also marked Vichheka was her stay in Kep province with her comrades. But beyond the travel, she has very good memories of what, a few years ago, was her daily life. “I will never forget my teachers. I loved studying in Taramana, especially languages. I also loved playing with my friends and eating in the canteen every lunchtime.” She evokes this past period with nostalgia. “Today, I still go to the centre for Khmer New Year, Christmas and other occasions. I come to give the team a hand with my friends. I would also like to continue practicing French with the theatre group but unfortunately I don’t have the time because I am working now. Besides, if I had one piece of advice to give to the current students, it would be to work hard and study well, because it will allow them to find a good job later on and support their family, as I am doing now“.
Indeed, today, Vichheka leads a balanced life. She enjoys her work as an employee in the quality assurance department of a textile factory and uses her free time to cook or play badminton. She has been playing badminton twice a week for the past four years. However, the peace and quiet of her daily routine does not stop her from continuing to dream. “When I was younger, I either wanted to become a doctor or to open my own restaurant. To be a doctor is a missed opportunity,” she says laughing, “but I still hope to open my own restaurant in the years to come!”
We wish her all the best in achieving her goals! Many thanks to Vichheka for answering our questions with great sincerity and maturity.
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