Building Towards a Dream: Sarem Goes to University

Today’s update is about Sarem, one of the older boys at Little Hearts. He is now 20 years old, having arrived when he was just 11. Like his brother Sarim, he is a smart young man who does well in school. He studied hard in order to pass his national exam by taking extra classes and tutorials in the afternoon. In the evening after school, he always did his homework diligently and helped teach his younger brothers and sisters. And his efforts paid off: he recently finished grade 12 with outstanding results, especially in physics, where he received an A.

Following Tony’s advice – choose a subject you’re passionate about and have talent for – Sarem has opted to study architecture at university. This was a natural and sensible choice, as Sarem has always shown great interest and aptitude for building things with his hands. In his spare time, he likes to create new objects in wood, such as model ships, lights stands and tables. He built the water wheel in our front garden; he also designed the bookshelves for the level 3 classroom. Besides wood carving and carpentry, he likes drawing and painting, and especially to take care of plants, so he landscaped his own mini-garden next to the fish pond.

Going from building small wooden objects to designing large buildings may seem like a huge leap, but even when he was little, Sarem often marvelled at all the buildings he saw in Phnom Penh, wondering how they had been designed and erected. He soon started to dream that one day he would be able to build a tall structure himself, something both striking and useful. He also wants to study abroad to learn about other cultures, especially to experience different built environments and architectural traditions.

With Ruth’s help, Sarem submitted a formal request for admission and a scholarship to the director of the Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA). Just one week later, Ruth received news from the university that Sarem had been awarded a full, four-year scholarship to study in the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism. As in other countries, enrolling in an architecture program is very competitive in Cambodia and requires passing a difficult entrance exam, but because Sarem had obtained such good baccalaureate results in physics and maths, the entrance test was waived. He started his university course on January 2nd and is looking forward to a very productive and challenging four years ahead. Congratulations, Sarem!

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