In partnership with other youth development projects, schools and skateboard clubs worldwide, Skateistan’s cultural exchange program brings together youth from all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds to exchange experiences, opinions, art, and multimedia creations.
Youth participants exchange art and information about their cultures using photography, video, e-mail and Skype. Skateistan also takes part in events abroad, giving youth leaders the chance to expand their horizons.
We have recently begun a video exchange class connecting Skateistan students across two countries; Cambodia and Afghanistan. The girls attending our Kabul project on Tuesday afternoons are connecting with girls of Skateistan Cambodia on a weekly basis via Skype video sessions.
Both countries involved in the project are gifted with a rich cultural heritage, which has been threatened by decades of war. Since the purpose of the exchange is to share and celebrate the different aspects of both cultures, the students are not just learning about another culture but also their own as well by delving deeper into what it means to be Afghan or Cambodian.
The exchange began with the students discussing answers to questions such as: interests, hobbies, daily lives and skateboarding skills. Afterwards, students from each Skateistan project were able exchange personal experiences within their country.
The students discussed custom, culture, population, climate, geography and products of each other’s countries. As the class went on they started to discuss more of the social issues that are present in their countries, such as percentage of working women and female inequality.
The girls in Cambodia and Afghanistan have found the exchange uplifting and exciting, giving the students a sense of pride in their cultural identity;
“We are happy to share about what exists in Cambodian culture including food, clothes, dancing, greeting, resorts, as well as the other things since the girls there could not see these things directly, but through pictures, they could understand and know what we have here.” – Skateistan Cambodia’s female students
It was clear from the discussions that the children have a deep understanding of the culture and the issues that exist within their own countries, and through the exchange they have added to their understanding of other cultures across the world,
“We have studied about Cambodia in geography subject at school but through this class we got an opportunity to see them and know about their culture” –Skateistan’ female Afghan students
The girls from Kabul and Phnom Penh will continue to exchange aspects of their countries cultures in the coming weeks.
In 2013, Skateistan Cambodia’s Education Coordinator and Youth Leader Kov Chansangva, better known as Tin was invited to join the Global Initiatives Networking (GIN) Youth Conference in Bali.
The conference ran over two days and combined activities with presentations from young people working in areas of humanitarian, environmental, and educational progression. Alongside international keynote speakers Tin was invited as a speaker representing Skateistan Cambodia.
Working with Skateistan has changed my life; it is like I was given a new one. I have gained many new experiences. I was very scared the first month I started working there, because I felt my English was poor and it was the first time I ever had a real job.
By being there, I learned new responsibilities and skills from the Skateistan team who helped me build greater confidence, which allows me to have good relationships with the students. I used to be afraid of teaching in front of them, but not anymore.
It also makes me very happy to be with the students and we have a lot of fun together. Skateboarding is new in Cambodia. There are very few skaters in the country outside of Skateistan and they are only guys, girls don’t skateboard, they want to, but they think it’s dangerous, or they’re either afraid or shy.
I don’t think like them and I don’t want the boys to look down on girls who want to try skateboarding. There are boys who think girls can’t do the tricks like them. So I want to prove them wrong and have other girls like me to get into skateboarding. I don’t want them to be afraid.
I love my life now, it makes me proud when students look up to me and call me their teacher.
Read more with our re-caps of the trip: