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Alumnus visits learning center in Cambodia

In June, Peter Kleinhütten, alumnus of the General Management Plus Program at WHU, traveled to Cambodia to visit a learning center in the rural community of Tonloab. One year ago, he had established the learning center together with eleven executives and the social enterprise BOOKBRIDGE.

The mission for his visit in June was to celebrate the first anniversary of the learning center with the community and to create awareness of different educational topics together with Vannak Pen, who is the head of the learning center.

“I wanted to show Vannak how easy it is to learn new things and have fun at the same time. Thus I decided to shoot a video with him in the learning center”, says Kleinhütten. For him, this meant learning to write a screenplay in advance, bringing a camcorder, and being a cameraman, director, and mentor in one person. He had no experience in movie-making before.

In only 24 hours, Kleinhütten and Pen shot the footage for the 8-minute video, that Kleinhütten cut himself after the trip to Cambodia. “I had never done this before, so it was quite a challenge for me to look through the footage, cut it and find suitable music”, explains Kleinhütten.

The video shows the variety of Vannak Pen´s tasks in the learning center: He organizes IT and English courses for children and adults, plays and sings with the children, and manages all financial issues. The learning center has been set up as a financially self-sustained business. To ensure good sustainability rates in the future, Pen needs to develop new ideas to earn money with offers (e.g. IT and English courses, kindergarten) in the learning center and to raise awareness for the importance of education for children in Cambodia. He will probably offer new IT courses and also will commit himself to environmental issues, for example, rubbish disposal in the community.

The film project made Peter Kleinhütten step out of his comfort zone and go on a personal learning journey, as he had done during the 9 months part-time General Management Plus Program in which he participated from September 2013 to June 2014. While continuing to work full-time in a German bank, he enhanced his knowledge in strategy, finance, leadership, and entrepreneurship in lectures and sessions at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management. But there was more than just sitting in a classroom and listening to professors: Kleinhütten and his teammates created a business plan for a social business – the learning center in Tonloab – in their spare time. “I really liked the program. The combination of lectures and sessions with excellent professors and the possibility to apply the newly gained knowledge right away in a business project were unique”, thinks Kleinhütten. During the last module of the program, the group traveled to Cambodia to finish the last renovation work of the learning center and to open it officially. Today, the program participants still have a close connection to Vannak Pen, the BOOKBRIDGE team, and to the learning center.