We were happy to be among more than 30 Wiley colleagues from eight countries across the Asia-Pacific and beyond organized workshops on critical thinking and problem solving for two Cambodia-based Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) recently.
The group seized the opportunity to give back to the local community as part of a wider Wiley meeting held in Siem Reap.
We wanted to contribute the best way we could: by offering the content that we publish and by involving our colleagues as much as possible. As such, we decided to collaborate with:
- Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC), a pediatric teaching hospital which provides free healthcare to impoverished children and
- Phare, the Cambodian Circus, a social enterprise which helps at-risk youth by providing education and professional arts training.
Having gained an understanding of the needs and challenges of both organizations, we decided to run workshops on critical thinking – a concept not widely taught or encouraged in Cambodia – with some 30 staff from each organization. Our colleagues were involved in a number of ways: from sourcing relevant content, to bouncing ideas off one another, challenging our own thought processes, putting together scenarios and case studies, and facilitating discussions. We were determined to give our best to these organizations. Because we worked out of different offices and locations, we used a variety of tools to plan and meet; ranging from our internal social media platform to meeting face to face where possible and of course, over email and the good old telephone.
Our anxiety about running a useful workshop was put to rest when we saw how enthusiastic the workshop participants were. From participating actively in the icebreakers to sharing their take on how they would respond to the various scenarios that we provided, we were blown away by their creativity and focus on wanting to help their respective organizations succeed.
We were humbled by what we saw. While their physical surroundings might not have been the best, they never let this deter them from giving their all.In their smiles we saw a willingness to help and a genuine desire to make a difference.
Nicole Lade, Global Projects Director, Wiley (Singapore), who led the group at Phare said, “The attendees from Phare were very enthusiastic in sharing their ideas, and our colleagues commented afterwards that it was one of the highlights of their week in Cambodia.”
Craig Dodge, Director of Sales & Marketing, Phare, said that the workshop was very helpful for their staff and that he would encourage them to read the Wiley books we gifted, which included Think Smarter: Critical Thinking to Improve Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Skills. “I could see on everyone's faces that the message was coming through and that they were enjoying the activity. It gave us some good discussion material moving forward,” he said.
In fact, a month later, Craig shared that his team had incorporated the critical thinking approach into their weekly meetings, where they would present a difficult situation they routinely faced and use the skills learned to come up with solutions. “It's probably the best training we have had in terms of a take-away that can be used, and reinforced over and over,” he added.
Lively discussions between our colleagues and AHC and Phare staff.
Over at AHC, the staff seemed shy at first but before long they were actively taking part. “Everyone – the nurses, doctors, and administrative staff – was willing to learn and share. Critical thinking was not the easiest concept to crack, but the attendees were very engaged and at various points the discussion got so lively in the room!” said Kim Huynh, Marketing Manager – Digital, Wiley (Melbourne), who led the workshop at the hospital.
At the end of the day, all our volunteers came together at Phare where we had dinner and watched the “Same Same But Different” show along with Phare staff. “I've rarely seen the staff really engage with visitors like they did. Normally they bunch up and talk among themselves,” said Craig of the Phare staff. “It's a testament to how engaging and friendly the Wiley group was during the workshop. There were hugs!”
Wiley colleagues mingling with Phare artists after their spectacular performance.
A meaningful experience
Yuji Kasahara, Senior Account Executive, Wiley (Tokyo), who celebrated his 10th Wiley anniversary in Cambodia said volunteering at Phare made for an unforgettable experience. “I was a bit nervous to play the role of a workshop facilitator at first but everyone’s active participation and positive spirit made my nerves go away,” he said. “Then to be treated to the absolutely amazing performance – how lucky was I! I am grateful for such a wonderful opportunity.”
Tyson Daoust, Key Account Manager, Wiley (Sydney), echoed the sentiment: “It is fantastic to work for an organization and, more importantly, with passionate people who are willing to invest in such fantastic causes.”
“It was a good opportunity for us to come together as one, without any distinction. We had different job titles, work in different regions, and for different business units but at AHC and Phare, we were a team,” added Kim. “I cannot say enough how much our colleagues made me feel proud to be a part of Wiley.”
Supporting true heroes
Prior to the workshops, staff at Angkor Hospital for Children led Wiley colleagues on a tour to see the various departments at the hospital, including a neonatal ward which has helped reduce the infant mortality rate significantly. Our colleagues were visibly moved by the visit. “I was so impressed with the work the hospital staff are doing; these people are heroes,” said Chris Gray, VP, Knowledge & Learning APAC, Wiley (Melbourne).
While we also made a monetary donation to support AHC, it was our emotional support that made a lasting impression. “We identified that, beside your generous donation there is one more thing that was very encouraging for us and that was your generous heart – it reminds and pushes us to stay stronger to continue our mission,” said Chhengheng Chhom, Grant Unit Manager, AHC.
Wiley colleagues with Angkor Hospital for Children staff.
Image Credit: Wiley