Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centre

As a documentary filmmaker in the 1990s, Rithy Panh realised the utter lack of audiovisual resources in Cambodia and decided to start an organisation to collect as much of the Kingdom’s audiovisual heritage as possible.

Rithy Panh’s dream of gathering the resources convinced Ieu Pannakar, who was the head of the Department of Cinema within the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts at that time, to jump on board. The two men established the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center in December 2006 with the support of the Ministry of Culture and many other institutions.

“Bophana was the name of a young woman detained in S-21 during the Pol Pot Regime,” said Chum Noi, public relations officer for Bophana.
“The centre was given the name Bophana to bear witness to the dignity and courage of this woman.”

Aiming to preserve and present the remaining pictures, movies and songs from the last 150 years of Cambodia’s history, Bophana has around 30 staff members who have helped collect and protect more than 2,000 documents produced by Cambodians and foreigners.

The centre improves the quality of the documents, digitizes them and adds them to its expansive computer database, which is growing bigger by the week.

The overriding purpose of the collection is to provide free access to Cambodians and foreigners who wish to explore the audiovisual memory of Cambodia and learn more about the country’s past glory and terror.

“All the documents can be viewed freely in three main languages: Khmer, English and French. Therefore, people can search for their desired document easily,” said Sim Sok Thida, a research analyst at the Center.

“Bophana has been working collaboratively with other audiovisual archive centers in America, Europe and Asia to gather the remaining Cambodian documents from those countries and get authorization from the owners to present and provide people access to those files,” said Gaetan Crespel, the archive manager at Bophana Center.

He added that the center has also been cooperating with the Cambodian Film Commission in training Cambodian people in film and audio-related technical work to ensure that they are capable of taking care of documents, as well as improving their own ability to produce photos, film and audio files that will ensure that people do not forget what is happening today.

“I often visit the center when I am free from my studies since I can find so many important documents that aren’t available anywhere else,” said Nem Lorn, a student from Human Resource University.

“I can gain priceless knowledge, especially in art, civilization and history. I hope more Cambodian youth spend time here to explore their past.

“I am sure that the center is going to be here for the next 10 or 20 years to serve the public,” said Crespel.

“We still have many more archives that haven’t been digitized and shown to the public yet.”
By Mesa Lang

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Good News Corps

Founded in 2002 by the International Youth Fellowship Educational Foundation, the Good News Corps (GNC) has become one of the biggest overseas volunteer programmes for international students who wish to broaden their views of the world and set an example for a new generation of youth to engage in improving their society.

The Good News Corps, whose motto is “exchange your youth for their hearts”, creates opportunities for students to go overseas for one year in order to engage with every part of a foreign culture: language, cuisine, music, architecture, sport and traditional performances.

In the past eight years more than 2,000 students have devoted one year of their lives to serve in over 80 countries around the world. But while Cambodia has received many volunteers through the International Youth Fellowship (IYF), this will be the first year that Cambodia sends volunteers abroad (the deadline for applicants is July 23). “This is the first time that IYF in Cambodia is cooperating with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to send Cambodian youth to the United States of America and South Korea,” said Y Sengly, the program manager for IYF in Cambodia.

Through activities like visiting hospitals and retirement homes, youth and community outreach programmes and journeys to remote areas, volunteers are able to deeply touch the lives of others.
By Mesa Lang

The Beach Clean Up Project

The Beach Clean Up Project, which is organized by ENRICH, a group of English-speaking youth at the Institute of Foreign Languages, was started to celebrate World Environment Day. This year 47 volunteers came together to spruce up Ochheuteal beach in Sihanoukville on June 5 and 6.

The efforts were not only meant to clean up the beach, but also to spread information to local youth and vendors, as well as tourists about the impact of pollution, and to encourage them to play more active roles in protecting the environment.

Project participants also designed posters and logos on rubbish bins and then celebrated a hard day’s work by playing beach games and joining in other team-building activities.

“We believe that this campaign encourages a better understanding of the environment among the people we reach out to,” said Sarin Sirivudh, the co-facilitator of ENRICH. He added that people involved can go on to set up clean-up projects in their own communities.

“This is a great opportunity to socialise with people,” said Hang Sopheak, a participant from the Royal University of Law and Economics.

“I believe that I will be able to learn skills such as leadership, communication, problem solving and teamwork from my peers.”

ENRICH provides participants with both memorable experiences and an opportunity to improve their understanding of environmental issues, problem solving and teamwork.
By Mesa Lang