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Service. Scholarship. Schools.

Service. Scholarship. Schools.
Service. Scholarship. Schools.

Deep in rural Cambodia, Aiglon service projects run alongside a partnership with Jay Pritzker Academy to bring the very brightest scholars to the mountain.

Participating in Aiglon's service project in Cambodia opened Marianna Caprotti’s eyes to the devastation caused by war and poverty – and to the richness of Cambodian culture. Visiting the Killing Fields, she learned about the atrocities suffered under the Khmer Rouge regime just 50 years ago. She marveled at the extraordinary Angkor Wat. And, at the Angkor Hospital for Children, she saw the difference a dedicated healthcare organization can make.

It also helped Marianna (Le Cerf, 2023) see that she could make an impact. “When we were teaching English in the village of Beng Mealea, we noticed that rubbish was strewn everywhere,” she says. “So we came up with a game where whoever picked up the most rubbish would win a prize. The children really got into it, and hopefully it will continue in the future. And when I came back home, I felt differently about rubbish. I’ve started to always carry around a tote bag when I go to the supermarket. We talk about plastic pollution a lot, but I didn’t realize just how it affects people’s lives until I went to Cambodia.”

Service has long been a core aspect of an Aiglonian education. But in rural Cambodia, our service project runs alongside our partnership with Jay Pritzker Academy (JPA) in Siem Reap, which sends scholars to Aiglon. This means that the practical efforts of students on the ground are combined with the philanthropic effort of our whole community to create a connection that goes further than ever before.

Founded in 2006 by US philanthropists Dan and Karen Pritzker, JPA is a co-ed day school. Its rigorous selection process aims to attract the most academically talented and motivated students in rural Cambodia, maximizing their potential and their ability to build a better future for themselves, their families – and their country. “It’s an old, traditional rice farming community,” says Ms Naomi Lane, Dean of JPA. “We’re on the flood plains, so it’s very beautiful, very quiet and very green. Nature is all around us, from ducks to buffaloes to snakes!”

One day, back in 2014, a staff member researching boarding schools found out about Aiglon. They wrote to Aiglon, asking if any of their students might be a fit for Aiglon’s Scholarship Programme. Now, the school regularly sends scholars. The end goal for its students, says Ms Lane, is to win a scholarship and attend one of the world’s leading universities – and many do just that.

What the Aiglon scholars gain is beyond measure, says Ms Lane. “It’s a comfortable environment for them to expand and explore all that they can be. They gain confidence, without losing any humility. They know they have a place not just in Cambodia but in the world. They can walk into a room anywhere and feel that they belong. And that helps them to be better advocates for themselves – and for Cambodia. There are so many positives about JPA, but we are a Cambodian school, and we can’t offer the diverse perspectives that Aiglon offers.”

This year, School Director Mrs Nicola Sparrow visited JPA to deepen links with the school, and to interview prospective Scholarship Programme candidates. “We have had some amazing students from JPA, who have all gone on to full scholarships at universities in the USA,” she says. “I went to JPA this year with the intention of taking one scholar, but I ended up taking two! All the candidates were incredible. I would have taken all 12 of them if I could.”

Mrs Sparrow was particularly impressed with how the students had coped with the disruption caused by the pandemic – schools in Cambodia were required to close for extended periods throughout 2020 and 2021 and provide online classes. “JPA was closed for almost two years, and students and families could not access meals, healthcare or materials support from JPA’s campus,” she says. “It was a struggle just to access online classes. It was humbling to hear how they found the positives in this life-changing experience.”

The Cambodia service project and the Scholarship Programme give Aiglon students, parents and alumni a unique opportunity, not just to visit a country striving to overcome the disruption of war and political turmoil but also to be part of its rebirth. As Ms Lane says, donating to Aiglon’s Scholarship Programme is nothing less than an investment in the future. “The impact may not be easy to see in the short term, but in the long term it is vast,” she says. “The Scholarship Programme creates a unique opportunity for future decision-makers around the world to have a shared understanding. They will bring their Aiglon experience to decisions that will have a huge impact. And I hope that this will lead to better decisions being made for everybody on this planet.”

Read the full 2023 Annual Review



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