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Youth Leaders Encouraged by US Visit

The Leadership Development Training Program, hosted in the US between Aug. 23 and Sept. 7, included two Cambodians, selected after their participation in a televised game show in Cambodia.

Lalune Sreang and Norin Toch both said as guests on "Hello VOA" Thursday they had been encouraged by the training program, which seeks to expose them into US politics, government and lifestyles and presented the opportunity to meet high-ranking US officials.

Participants met with Lorne Craner, president of the International Republican Institute, which sponsored the trip, as well as Karen Johnson, executive vice president of the National Organization for Women, and others.

"Most of the American people are very helpful, honest and friendly," Lalune Sreang, who won the IRI-sponsored television contest "Cambodian Best Youth Leadership Challenge" in 2008, said Thursday. "American women are strong and independent, but women in Cambodia face adversities in participating in politics and civil society."

Lalune Sreang said she would like to see Cambodian women have "equal access to every level of educational and vocational training and in the professional field."

Norin Toch, who won the "Leadership Challenge" in 2007, said the trip had been a good opportunity for him.

"I want in the future other Cambodian youths to come and learn about this program, which is to increase youth's visibility and influence and to encourage them to take the lead in action," he said Thursday. "The Cambodian government needs to promote and encourage young Cambodians in democratic and development processes in order to fight against corruption and maintain sustainable peace in Cambodia."