Walking A Mile in Serey’s Shoes

Last month, Free To Shine welcomed two groups of Australian high school students to our office for the unveiling of our brand new educational experience: A Mile in Serey’s Shoes.

Inspired by the well-loved Choose Your Own Adventure book series, A Mile in Serey’s Shoes combines Free To Shine’s eight years of experience with external published reports to provide participants with unique insight into life in rural Cambodia.

The four-hour experience began with an overview of Free To Shine and of our impact here in Siem Reap. We discussed our Five Pillars of Child Protection and the holistic approach we take and showed the participants some of the resources we provide to our girls and their families. To fully prepare our participants for the decisions they were about to make, we then provided an overview of Cambodia’s history and a snapshot of Cambodia today. We feel it’s important to recognize the way in which the past still impacts the realities faced by Cambodians today.

Then it was time to meet Serey. Although Serey does not represent a real individual, her life experiences and circumstances embody common situations faced by our families on a daily basis. Participants learned about Serey’s childhood, family, house and financial status before being faced with their first decision: how will they react when the microfinance company comes knocking.

The rest of the experience unfolds as a series of choices: A or B. The students worked in small groups to debate the cost and benefit of each option before voting on their decision. Each small group was facilitated by at least one Free To Shine staff member who helped guide the discussion, answer any questions that arose, and ask difficult questions that encouraged deeper reflection. After nearly two hours of discussion and decision making, we arrived at the conclusion of Serey’s story. Participants were then given a chance to revisit previous decision points to see how Serey’s life would have been different if they had chosen a different path.

A Mile in Serey’s Shoes was such pleasure to host and we hope that the groups enjoyed participating as much as we enjoyed facilitating. We couldn’t have asked for better groups to start this experience with. Throughout the entire experience, both groups of students were engaged and insightful. We’re extremely grateful they came out to walk a mile in Serey’s shoes with us and we can’t wait to host more groups!

For more information, check out our page.