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ONU Law hosting benefit auction of Cambodian artwork

The Ohio Northern University College of Law will host a Cambodian benefit art auction beginning Monday, April 16 through Friday, April 20. There will be a silent auction throughout the week for artwork created by Cambodian students from Phare Ponleu Selpak, a performing arts school in Battambang. Members of the University and the local community are invited to view the artwork and participate in the silent auction, which will be on display in the College of Law’s Clemens Lounge from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. daily.

On Thursday, April 19 at lunchtime several ONU Law students will give a presentation in Room 124 to explain how these schools have made an impact on the students' lives. ONU Law students will share their experiences and favorite memories from the recent January term trip to Cambodia. The trip is part of a seminar course taught by Professor of Law Kevin Hill, “Law & Culture in Southeast Asia,” which has been offered annually since 2014. The January term is a three-week “bonus” semester that allows students to intensively study a subject that may exist outside of the traditional law school curriculum, and provides opportunities for hands-on learning experiences and studying abroad.  

Funds raised the week of April 16 will be donated a Cambodian school started by the People Improvement Organization (PIO), which was established in 2002 by Mrs. Phymean Noun. PIO is committed to help the street children of Phnom Penh. Started at the Phnom Penh city dump, the school provides elementary education, books, uniforms and food to the children who lived in the dump and surrounding slums. In 2012, Phymean Noun was profiled by CNN as a Contemporary Hero.

Second-year law student Madeleine Burnette participated in the course and shared, "It was truly the best experience. The children of the PIO school offer such a unique perspective. These children, who live in extreme poverty, are still so enthusiastic about their education and are so grateful to have our support." 

Second-year law student Carter Brown added, "It was amazing to see their everyday lives and how much they valued their education. Buying these paintings supports the schools so they can continue to support students and their families."

Each painting on display in the auction was painted by a student at Phare Ponleu Selpak, which is a nonprofit Cambodian school that was started as a refugee camp in 1993. The school used art and dance to overcome the trauma of the Cambodian civil war and genocide. It focuses on improving the lives of children, young adults and their families with art schools, educational programs and social support. 

"I urge everyone learn about this wonderful culture,” shared Joe Sukup, second-year law student. “The trip was very eye opening. The money from this auction goes to support their continued education and allow them the ability to have a better life."

This event raised more than $2,000 each year in both 2016 and 2017, which is enough to cover the yearly salary of two teachers in Cambodia. Individuals who do not wish to bid or are unable to attend the event are still welcome to donate. The source of contact for these donations is Bailey Higgins (b-higgins@onu.edu).