Young students from Southeast Asian countries travel to the United States and engage in discussion on environmental sustainability, education and leadership, as part of the Southeast Asia Youth Leadership Program.
The Cambodian-American Heritage group, which has worked around Washington to preserve Khmer culture, has been awarded a medal from the Cambodian government.
Cambodia has a young population: about 60 percent are under the age of 30. Each year, an estimated 250,000 people are in need of a job.
In Cambodia, there are few employment options for women, except in two industries: garment manufacturing and sex work.
Asean’s 10 member countries are working toward creating a regional bloc that would open up a free flow of goods and services across the region, much of it by the end of this year.
Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron told VOA Khmer that while Cambodia has made some progress, many children still drop out of school in order to seek work.
The dropout rates remain high: just 20 out of 100 students registered in Cambodian primary schools are able to finish 9th grade.
Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday criticized the visit of First Lady Michelle Obama, saying her 'Let Girls Learn' initiative is not funding the education of Cambodian girls.
Girls in Siem Reap province say they are aware of the importance of education, especially higher education, to escape poverty.
Many residents in Siem Reap say they were not aware of the first lady’s visit, and some said even though they were, they aren’t sure what will happen next or how it will help.
Cambodian officials said over the weekend they hope her visit will also shine a positive light on the country and encourage more visitors to come.
Cambodians say they are hopeful the visit of US First Lady Michelle Obama will make a positive difference in the educational future of their girls.