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Cambodia has a long, rich and complex history. Cambodians are proud of their culture and their ancient past, but at the same time they are still recovering from the tragedies of their more recent history. The near-total destruction by the Khmer Rouge of the nation’s educated workforce and infrastructure during the period 1975–1979 left Cambodia with a serious need for trained and educated people. Most Cambodians are eager to improve their lives and they view acquiring English language skills as a means to help accomplish this goal.

Although the Peace Corps and the Royal Government of Cambodia signed an agreement in 1994, political instability and budgetary constraints did not allow Peace Corps to establish a post in Cambodia until 2006. An assessment completed by the Peace Corps in 2005 found that the administrative and security infrastructure in Cambodia was sound, and that the opportunities for Volunteers to work safely and effectively had improved significantly. While Cambodia’s development needs are great, and much of the country’s infrastructure is still lacking, there are enough supports in place to ensure safe and productive assignments for Peace Corps Volunteers.

Peace Corps is launching its program in Cambodia with a teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) project. This project is geared toward classroom teaching of English at the upper secondary level. It will also support teachers in Cambodian provinces and districts to improve their English language and English teaching skills. The first group of TEFL Volunteers will arrive in Phnom Penh in February 2007. The scope of the Volunteers’ work, however, will not be limited to classroom teaching. Volunteers will collaborate with community groups and individuals to develop community-initiated projects, promote life skills, and achieve sustainable community activities, enhancing the quality of life for Cambodians in the communities where Volunteers serve.

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