Sport holds an important place in the activities of PSE. Obviously, there are sports lessons, but there are also many training sessions for team sports, with participation in local, national and even international competitions.
Basketball, football, athletics, taekwando, aikido, rugby... we have won medals in all these sports.
Rugby, in particular, with a dozen teams, is especially popular for girls as well as boys. Competitions abroad, (Brunei, Hong-Kong, Thailand, England, France etc), inspire our students who have been champions of Cambodia for several years.
It has always seemed very important to us that for the re-habilitation of the children, they need to understand their roots and their culture.
Traditional stories for the very youngest, 'Apsara' dances as popular dance, drama, are all integral parts of our programmes, and the young people especially enjoy performing in the fabulous spectacles at celebrations.
Summer camps are, above all, the story of the wonderful Alonso family. First of all, there is Marisa, whose vitality and enthusiasm are put to the test. She is the principle organizer of the camps. Fernando, who has big responsabilities in the management team of Airbus, as well as all the stress which this brings, is, however, never prevented from coming every year during his holiday time to help Marisa manage the noisy hordes of thousands of children.
And then, there are their children! Alexandra studies medicine; Pablo and Pedro are astonishing too. At the age when holidays are the time to catch up with their friends, go to the seaside or enjoy other delights, they come here every year, in stifling heat, and, like the other 70 group leaders, put themselves at the service of the most little ones, to bring them a little happiness.
For Marisa, work for the summer camps starts from September and lasts for the whole year! There are hundreds of letters to deal with, coming from everywhere: Spain, France, England, etc. There are choices to be made, (what a pity that everyone cannot be accepted), and she interviews every candidate individually.
It's marvellous that these young people, on top of their studies, are going to work and save up to pay for their entire journeys so that they can live an exhausting and Spartan life.
At the Centre, at the end of July, we have not finished the school year yet, when we see them arriving: first 1, then 2, then 3, then 10, then 70. There are preparation meetings with the Cambodian students who act as interpreters and who will train as organisers. Just after the last exams, we let them have the premises in Phnom -Penh, Sihanoukville, Siem Reap, in "the Paillotes" etc. The children who are going to benefit from these camps (4,800 in 2008) are, as a priority, the ones who are not able to come to the Centre during the rest of the year.
Then, for four weeks under a burning sun or monsoon rains, PSE is transformed into a joyful and booming hullabaloo, a noisy village fete, where, behind the sack races, egg and spoon races, 3-legged race or blind man's buff, tug of war, fun of every kind and the paddles which Oppaye persists in being unable to find, one senses, above all, the affection which the children need so much! And at the end of the day, our expats are to be found with 4 or 5 children hanging round their necks, completely exhausted but happy!