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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, February 20 through Friday, February 24. 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 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily.

On Monday, February 20 from noon – 1 p.m. several ONU Law students will give a presentation in the Large Moot Courtroom to kick-off the week-long event. 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.  

Second-year law student Bailey Higgins participated in the course and shared, “This trip was a trip of a lifetime. It was humbling, yet exciting to learn about the Southeast Asia cultures. I am so grateful that ONU provided me with this opportunity.”

Funds raised the week of February 20 will be donated to two Cambodian schools: Phare Ponleu Selpak and a school started by the People Improvement Organization (PIO). 

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. 

The People Improvement Organization (PIO) 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.

“Visiting the PIO school was eye-opening,” shared Brittney Ciarlo, second-year law student. “The children were so excited and happy to have the opportunity to attend school. This organization is serving a fundamental need and providing these children with tools to help them succeed.”

Higgins added, “We would really love community support so that we can give these Cambodian students the same opportunity that we have been afforded at ONU. Everyone deserves the chance to learn and grow.” 

In 2016, this event raised more than $2,000, 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 Julie Smith (j-smith.24@onu.edu)