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10-Year Anniversary

10-Year Anniversary

Opening Remarks by Mrs. Gwendolyn Higaki, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at DI’s 10th Years Anniversary, January 11, 2020


H.E. Ghuon Rattanak, Battambang Governor,
International and national Board members of DI,
Mr Khem Reaksmey, Founder and CEO of DI,
Colleagues from the state and private sector,
Staff, Parents and Key Partners,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Morning.

It is my great honor and I am delighted to be here today to celebrate DI’s 10th Anniversary. It is a significant milestone for DI. It is also cause to celebrate the unique and trusted programs that set DI apart from others in the Education community. Moreover, I would like to take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt appreciation for the Cambodian government, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, all related key partners – both state and private ones – and especially, the Battambang community for your support and cooperation in advancing education in our developing nation. I am glad to be here because I believe DI is uniquely positioned to make a significant positive impact in the education of Cambodia’s future leaders. DI’s vision of the future is much broader than other educators in Battambang. We think about Cambodia AND the world around us. We develop programs to give our students a worldview when we collaborate with international partners and advisors. We are devoted to instill high integrity and morality in our students and pride in their country. At DI, we are developing students who will succeed anywhere they may go in the world.

H.E, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me take this opportunity to say a few words about DI:

Dewey International (DI) was founded in 2010 by a group of educators from the United States of America, Germany, and Cambodia with the mission to provide the highest quality education in the western region of Cambodia. This is delivered through the Education Arm of DI, which we call Dewey International Education and Training (DIET). Since then, DI has become the leader in education in western Cambodia - from Pre-school and Kindergarten through to Primary and Secondary, and then University level. DI Schools offer both an American and Cambodian curriculum for students. Students as early as Pre-school age are offered both Khmer and American Curricula. Students from Grades 1 – 12 learn Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Information & Computer Technology, Social Studies, Arts, and Music – all using English as the medium of instruction from both expatriate and Khmer teachers. DI serves as a bridge to the world through its academic collaborations with universities and high schools around the world. Five DI high school students have scholarships to a private US high school where I live – they are thriving and excelling as honor students. DI also has recently signed agreements with universities and high schools in Australia, the USA, Korea, New Zealand and Canada for joint development of academic programs and research. Future collaborations with academic partners in China, Japan, India, Taiwan and various countries in Europe will further develop and broaden the academic quality, scope, and expertise of educational opportunities offered at DI Schools. In 2010, DIET started with less than 50 students. In 2013, when I met Khem Reaksmey, DIET had grown quickly to about 1,000 students. And now, DIET serves more than 3000 students, with 600 of them pursuing bachelor and master degrees at Dewey International University. The bachelor programs operate under 5 faculties:

1. Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Languages: Students major in English Language and Literature, Major in Khmer Studies and Major in Philosophy.
2. Faculty of Mathematics and Science: Students major in Environmental Science, Major in Statistics and Research, Major in Networking and Communication, Major in Software Engineering and Major in Mathematics.
3. Faculty of Education: Major in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, Major in Community Education and Major in Educational Administration.
4. Faculty of Business Administration: Major in Management, Major in Marketing, Major in Accounting, Major in Banking and Finance and Major in Tourism and Hospitality.
5. Faculty of Social Science: Major in Community Development, Major in Social Work, Major in Economics and Major in Political Science.

DIU has two master’s degree faculties:

1. Faculty of Business Management: Major in Management, Major in Finance and Banking, and Major in Hospitality and Tourism Management.
2. Faculty of Education: Major in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

In addition to education, DI has professionals leading business services in several areas, including:

An International Testing Centre, E-commerce, Tourism and Hospitality, Real Estate, Financial Services, and Imports and Exports.

H.E, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I strongly believe that with your enduring support and cooperation, DI will continue growing to fulfill the needs of education – not only for our Battambang community, but also throughout Cambodia. I commit to you that DI’s international and national board members, management team, and staff will always work hard for this.

In conclusion, together with the Celebration of DI’s 10 Year Anniversary at this moment, I would like to wish H.E, Ladies and Gentlemen, and all Distinguished National and International Guests to have a pleasant stay in this beautiful city of Battambang. I pray you all are blessed with joy, longevity and good health.

Thank you!

Speech by Mrs. Gwendolyn Higaki, Chairman of the Board of Trustees to DI’s Staff Party for 10th Years Anniversary, January 11, 2020


Good evening, my friends. It is wonderful to be in Battambang to share this celebration with you.

Many accomplishments in Dewey’s 10-year history bring us to where we are today. It has taken a team with vision and dedication to push beyond the obstacles along the way; a team that will stand and fight together to remain the #1 private school system in Northwest Cambodia for the next 10 years.

Dewey’s ability to stay #1 will require strong international education and training programs. This will be done with international partners that are chosen very carefully. That is my biggest job as your Chairman of the Board.

It is hard to be #1. Other schools in Battambang try to imitate Dewey. Khem Reaksmey and President Raymond have shared many stories with me. Other schools in Battambang claim to have an international program just as strong as ours. They are wrong. To that, I have my own stories and proof to share with you.

In 2017 – just 3 short years ago – Dewey was ready to make its first study tour to the United States. It was supposed to be a team of 12, including students and adults. After so much work and planning, Reaksmey and I were very disappointed when the US Embassy only granted 3 visas – for him and 2 students. Smey was discouraged and was going to cancel the trip, but I begged him to come to the US anyway. Let’s take the first step.

I carefully chose to take them to three different private high schools in Ohio (my state) with strong national reputations. Of the 3 schools, Smey and the students liked Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (or CVCA) the best. The first reason they each gave me was that CVCA made them feel welcome in the United States. In August 2017, Rey Rithkimann became the first Dewey student to receive a scholarship and enroll at CVCA.

One of our competitors in Battambang has said, “Oh, Dewey wants to become a Christian school.” That is not true. CVCA does not require our Dewey students to become Christian to attend or graduate. I wanted a school that would educate our Dewey students with a world view built upon strong values of hope, compassion, peace and family. These are the same values I see at Dewey. These are the same values my Buddhist friends in both Cambodia and the United States hold dear.

The success of this first international study program has been very important to Vernon and me. We have not been passive and watched others do the work. We brought Kimann into our own home. She has her own bedroom and bathroom. We eat our meals together. We help her study. She tries to teach us Khmer, which always makes her laugh. We laugh together as a family – sometimes we laugh so hard that we cry. I have held her in my arms when she has cried because she misses her family and friends in Battambang. Vernon and I are personally invested in the success of Dewey’s international education program. Dewey’s competitors do not have Board members who can say the same.

Kimann has been joined at CVCA by 4 other Dewey students – Khem Billy, Ritha Liza, Phlong Panha, and Khem Wiriya (just this week). They are living with host families that care for them as well as their own children. I check on their progress.

And so here is my proof. This is what #1 looks like and you can challenge our competitors in Battambang to compare:

• So far, 5 students from Dewey International School have received scholarships to attend Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (CVCA) in the United States. This is a very well-respected private school 15 minutes from my home.
• The leadership of CVCA is impressed with the good manners, hard work and determination of these students.
• These students have the same strict graduation requirements of the American students. No special rules.
• These students are not just surviving in school. They are thriving! They are high achievers, some with high honors.

These students will always belong to Dewey and they are proud of Dewey. Just look at your enrollment growth since 2017 in all parts of Dewey. Not all parents plan to send their children to school in the US. BUT, they see these Dewey students as shining examples of the caliber of education their children are receiving at Dewey. Their children are prepared with an education strong enough to do well anywhere in the world.

You have ALL had a hand in making this happen. From the moment a student begins to study English, you are exposing them to a world beyond Cambodia. You are giving them a dream and the ability to pursue it. You are preparing them to have confidence to face their fears. You are preparing them to meet international standards of excellence.

Please keep up the good work. Be proud. May God bless our next years as richly as these past ten!

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