Sister Joseen Vogt
In 2013, Sisters Joseen Vogt and Marlys Jax made a trip to Cambodia, and their story is featured in the Spring issue of the College of Saint Teresa Alumnae Newsletter. Click here to read the article.
At an age when most people look forward to retirement, Sister Joseen embraced the opportunity to serve in Cambodia during the country’s reconstruction period. Here is her story in her own words:
The school opened with an enrollment of 120 civil servant students utilizing four classrooms and with four expatriate teachers. I was the director, teacher trainer, and curriculum and course developer. The school grew and expanded rapidly enrolling people from the public sector as well.
COERR’s commitment ended in January, 1999. I handed over the directorship to a Cambodian and I remained as consultant and teacher trainer. All teachers were then Cambodian. As consultant, I continued to prepare curricula, develop courses, train teachers, catalogue books, and advise both staff and teachers.
Presently, COERR is a new independent school. It now has 42 teachers and an enrollment of about 3000 young adults. Classes of 20-30 pupils each are held seven days a week, nine classes per day in each of the eighteen classrooms. Students who have had little or no English begin with level one and progress upward from there; after all nine levels, their standing approximates that of a high school graduate in our country. The four basic communicative skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking, are stressed in coursework through the nine levels of proficiency.
Although I continued to work with the academic part of the program, I feel my greatest contribution to those I served was to instill moral and ethical values. As one teacher said, ‘Sister Joseen not only taught us how to teach the important English skills of listening and reading, writing and speaking, but more importantly, how to live honest, moral lives and how to be good citizens of our country.’
Water for Cambodians
In April 2009, Yuwatey Suy, Director of Business Affairs for the Sisters of Saint Francis, traveled to her former home in Cambodia, accompanied by her husband and sister. She has periodically visited her native country since arriving in Minnesota in 1979.
In addition to meeting with Sister Joseen for the formal ceremony of dedication and graduation of the students, Yuwatey had a concern while she was in her native village: the need for wells producing clean water. She went to her former home with $2000 donated by the public, and another $1000 from the Franciscan Fund. At around $170 a well, the workmen were able to repair some wells, finish others, and dig and make operative several new wells. The need is so great, she says; families not having a well have to search for water and often find only polluted ponds. Families with children and the old and/or disabled were served first, but still, many remain without.