Empowering a New Generation of Leaders in the Developing World

Overview | Students | Program | Leadership Residents | Facilities and Hall of Great Women


In-house Academic program

(1) English (at three different levels)Students are required to attend a minimum of three hours per week.

(2) Discussion and analysis of national and international news (based on readings from the English/Khmer newspaper The Cambodia Daily) to develop critical thinking skills. Students are required to attend two sessions per week.

(3) Training in computer skills (We have computers in each dorm connected to the internet.)

(4) A monthly leadership seminar, in which we discuss the qualities of great leadership, the special challenges that women face in becoming leaders, and case studies of great women leaders throughout history. We also have outstanding Cambodian leaders speak at these events.

(5) A monthly seminar in Cambodian history, starting from the Angkor period and going to the present. The full course runs two years.

(6) A course in analytical writing (12 hours)

(7) A course in debate (8 hours)

(8) A course in Southeast Asian Geography and Politics (10 hours)

(9) A course in Comparative Genocide studies (10 hours)

(10) A course in job preparation skills and ethics in the workplace (10 hours)

(11) A course in IELTS English test preparation (10 hours)

(12) A course in nutrition (3 hours)

In February 2015, Harpswell students enjoyed a 3-week course in drawing and art, taught by Prom Vichet.

Breaking out in small groups to discuss the qualities that make great leaders

Students working in the IT Room of the dormitory and leadership center at Teuk Thla. The facility has 10 computers, all connected to the internet


We provide the young women of the Leadership Centers with free room and board, free medical care at the Hope World Wide Medical Centers in Phnom Penh, university tuition when needed, and bicycles and small motorcycles to attend their university classes.


In the summer of 2008, we instituted an internship program, obtaining summer internships for our students at various NGOs and other organizations in Cambodia. Our students have received summer internships at the United Nations Development Project, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the World Bank, the Urban Poor Women's Development, the Cambodia Defender's Project (legal assistance), the Cambodia Daily newspaper, Voice of Democracy radio, Schools for Cambodia Children, the Community Legal Education Center, Habitat, and the private Parrot Computer company. Our students have also received internships with New Day Cambodia (provides mentoring to street children), the law firm Gordon Associates, the Commune Council Support Project, the Somaly Mam Foundation (provides mentoring to former sex slaves), and other organizations. It is our hope that with the experience and contacts of these internships, our students will hit the ground running when they graduate from university.

Courtyard of the Teuk Thla dormitory, looking toward the guard house. The circular design embedded in the terra cotta tiles is a "mandala," a Buddhist and Hindu symbol marking a sacred place. Elsewhere, the grounds have flowers, trees, grass, fish ponds, and curving walkways.

Post-Graduate Scholarships and Jobs

Our first students graduated in 2010. That year and each year since, we have obtained one-year post-graduate fellowships at universities in the U.S. for four or five of our graduating students. American universities that our students have and are attending include Northeastern University, Agnes Scott College, Bard College, Bowdoin College, Rhodes College, the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, and the School for International Training. We have formed special partnerships with each of these colleges and universities and have received some of their students in exchange, to live in our facilities in Phnom Penh in the summer. Several of our graduates are now enrolled in Masters Degree program in Phnom Penh.

We have recently created a blog site where the Harpswell graduates who are doing post-graduate study abroad can post photographs and descriptions of their experiences outside Cambodia. This site is called Harpswell Women Abroad and is open to the public.

Virtually all of our graduates have received jobs in Phnom Penh, working for NGOs, law firms, businesses, newspapers, and schools, including: the Daughters of Cambodia, Gordon Associates (law and business firm), the Peace Corps, the Somaly Mom Foundation, the Jay Pritzker Academy, The Alliance for Conflict Transformation, Insitor Fund, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, the Cambodia Daily newspaper, and Amret Microfinance. Four years ago, most of these students were living in poor, rural farming communities with no hope for the future aside from working in the rice fields or the garment industry.

Five former Harpswell students, all graduates of the Royal University of Law and Economics, employed by Gordon Associates, a Phnom Penh law firm that specializes in business innovation and humanitarian work. From left to right, Layheang Hing, Soma Hour, Sreyhak Sruong, Alan Lightman, Socheath In, Channy Hak, and Brad Gordon

© The Harpswell Foundation 2008
last revised 9/12/16