PHNOM PENH —
While many people may think the US Embassy is just for visas or other diplomatic issues, it also has an information resource center, which can be a valuable place for students, journalists and others.
The resource center has been in operation since 2005, offering research facilities free of charge. In the past, it’s been popular for its computers and free Internet connection, Courtney Woods, a spokesman for the embassy, said.
These days, though, many people now connect to the Internet on their own, via their mobile phones. Still, the research center is there, open to the public.
“The main purpose of creating this IRC is to let people know that the embassy is not a big scary place,” Woods said. “They can come here any day of the week. It’s a public place.”
The center can help people learn English, study the US, or even find a better job inside Cambodia, Woods says.
Phoung Chandy, 22, a fourth-year student from CamEd Business School, told VOA Khmer she’s been coming to the center for almost a year, after it was recommended to her by a friend. She uses the center to learn US history and research scholarship opportunities.
Woods said the resource center is not always full, but “even if we have one person in here, that one person has all the materials they want.”
That includes access to a US library account, which can be set up online, allowing for the order of books. The center also allows check-outs of books, CDs, DVDs and other material.
Heng Sophaneth, 22, from Institute of Foreign Languages, told VOA Khmer she’s been coming for about a year, mostly to read. “Here I can borrow books to read at home, and I can borrow the Kindle and audio books, as well, which are never provided by other libraries,” she said.
The resource center is located at the US Embassy, but there are four other “American corners” in the country: at Panhasastra University in Phnom Penh; the University of Management and Economics, in Kampong Cham; the University of Management and Economics in Battambang; and the University of Southeast Asia in Siem Reap.
The American centers are similar to the resource center, but they offer even larger spaces for students and are located on university campuses.