We are proud to introduce two new members of the Skateistan team: Rath Chansopheakna (Pheakna) and Talia Kaufman!
Talia hails from Calgary, Canada, and started skateboarding as a teenager. She has a background in Development, Journalism, and Sexual Health Education, and has traveled and skated throughout Europe and South America. We are really excited to have her on the team as our new Communications Officer.
Pheakna is native to Phnom Penh and has been participating in Skateistan Cambodia’s programming as a student and monitor for some time now. Not only is he a great skater and enthusiastic instructor, he’s a pro at all things construction related and an incredible break-dancer thanks to his extensive experience with Pour un Sourire D'Enfant (PSE). Pheakna is also learning to DJ right now with our partner Turning Tables, and will be teaching other kids to DJ in the future.
We caught up with Talia and Pheakna at the guesthouse to ask them a few questions. Keep reading to hear about their impressions of Skateistan and to see some pictures of them in action!
Skateistan: How did you first hear about Skateistan Cambodia?
Pheakna: After I finished my studies, I always played skateboard every evening at PSE.
Talia: I was already following Skateistan pretty closely, and I heard some good things through Rhianon when they were first starting up here last Fall.
Skateistan: What were you doing before coming to work at Skateistan Cambodia?
Talia: I was working in my hometown, Calgary, in Canada, teaching Sexual Health.
Pheakna: I was a teacher of breakdancing at PSE, and I studied construction.
Skateistan: How do you feel about being a part of the Skateistan Cambodia Project?
Pheakna: I’m very happy! I like to work with kids, and especially want them to enjoy skateboarding like me.
Talia: I feel really lucky to get to be here and contribute to this project. I’m being pushed every day to learn new things – with skating, the Khmer language, and at work. And I’m really excited about the concept of using sport for social development and community building. It’s a great jumping off point to tackle a lot of issues.
Skateistan: What do you hope to accomplish while you are here?
Talia: I just want to help however I can be useful. I’m doing communications and media stuff, which I love. I want to help us communicate with our supporters or potential supporters about what we’re doing and why it’s important. One of our goals is to get a lot more girls involved here, so I’ve been helping with that, and hopefully I’ll land some new tricks too.
Pheakna: I want to have as many kids as possibly practicing skateboarding. I try to practice skateboarding all the time so that I can teach well for the kids.
Skateistan: How did you get into skateboarding, and how long have you been doing it?
Talia: I started skating when I was 14. My best friend got me started with it. Back then Calgary didn’t have a permanent skatepark so we would just ride around the suburbs, skate curbs, or go hill bombing, we also had access to a nice mini ramp. We’d go street skating a lot too, even in the winter, we’d bundle up and go roll around.
Pheakna: I started to learn how to skateboard 7 months ago with Skateistan. I thought that Skateboarding is the new sport in Cambodia, and I liked it because when I play it, my stresses are released.
Skateistan: Anything else to add?
Pheakna: When I started to skateboard, I thought it was a very difficult sport. Sometimes I almost gave up. But now, I think I can do it. I don’t ever want to give it up.
Talia: Just thanks for interviewing me, and also I’m stoked about all the really good people I work with here.
Pheakna helps a girl from the guesthouse drop in on one of the big ramps
Talia and the girls from the Cambodian Women's Development Agency get their stretch on
Talia sessioning the new park
Pheakna is a really enthusiastic teacher!
Talia manning the Skateistan booth at a demo