It’s that time of year when everything from music to movies is arranged in a list and counted down. At Phare Ponleu Selpak, we’re doing the same.

The past year has been quite busy at Phare Ponleu Selpak with art festivals, volunteers, star alumni, and more all making the headlines of the Phare blog. When we look at the past year it’s amazing to think of all the things that Phare students, staff, and volunteers have achieved and the stories that have been told of this amazing school and community.

So, what were the most popular blog posts of 2023? Let’s count them down!


#10: How Does My Circus Show Ticket Support Phare Ponleu Selpak?

Learn how your circus ticket purchase impacts the students at Phare Ponleu Selpak and in Battambang

When you purchase a ticket to Phare Battambang Circus, did you know you’re supporting an entire community?

The funds from your ticket impact a wide variety of people and programs throughout Battambang Cambodia.

Read this year’s #10 most popular post to learn how your circus show ticket supports student performers and the work of Phare Ponleu Selpak.


#9: Meet the Volunteers of Phare Ponleu Selpak: KIM Eunkyoo, Language & Music Teacher

Read about KIM Eunkyoo’s experience volunteer teaching Korean, English, music, and more at Phare Ponleu Selpak

The Phare campus is home to volunteers from Cambodia and all around the world. This week we’re proud to interview KIM Eunkyoo from South Korea who’s helping change lives through the arts across a few different subjects.

Read about Eunkyoo’s experience volunteering in Cambodia in this year’s ninth most popular post.


#8: In Memory of Lokru Srey Bandaul: Inaugurating a New Reflection Garden at Phare Ponleu Selpak

Read about the new Lokru Srey Bandaul reflection garden and the memorial service to inaugurate it

Since 2021, every year in early August the Phare Ponleu Selpak community grieves the loss of one of our co-founders, Lokru SREY Bandaul.

On August 4, 2023, we celebrated the memory of Bandaul who passed away two years ago from COVID-19, with the inauguration of a new reflection garden on campus.

Read more about Lokru Bandaul and the reflection garden that now bears his name on the Phare campus.


#7: How Global Citizenship Education Is Shaping the Next Generation of Leaders at Phare Ponleu Selpak

Discover the importance of global citizenship education for the staff and students of Phare Ponleu Selpak.

Today, the world is closely connected, and individuals, communities, and countries live in complex interdependencies. Thus, it’s essential that everyone learn the value of global citizenship.

From July to November 2023, the Battambang Global Citizen Education project was an instructor training course taught by a group of Korean volunteers that provided global citizenship education to the staff and students of Phare Ponleu Selpak.

Read this year’s #7 most popular blog post on how Phare staff and students are being shaped into global leaders.


#6: Podcast: Hope of Lokru Srey Bandaul, the Smiling Hero

Listen to this podcast recorded in the occasion of the commemoration of Lokru SREY Bandaul.

After the two-year memorial of the passing of Lokru SREY Bandaul (see above), one of his close friends, LAM Lay, recorded a podcast episode recounting Bandaul’s hopes and memories – and our memories of him.

Listen to the podcast (in Khmer) or read along with the transcript (English and Khmer) by LAM Lay in this post from August 2023.


#5: Smashing Success: The S’Art Festival Brought Urban Arts to Life in Battambang in 2023

Catch up on everything that happened at the S’Art Urban Arts Festival 2023 in Battambang, Cambodia

The 2023 edition of the S’Art Urban Arts Festival was a remarkable success. 

From 12 to 17 June, the biennial S’Art Festival drew in over 7700 attendees across a wide range of activities and who hailed from around Cambodia and across Asia.

Read more about how the six-day art festival made a smashing post-pandemic comeback in Battambang in this year’s fifth most popular blog post.


#4: Don’t Miss the Battambang imaginée Art Festival

Join us for a unique art festival in Battambang celebrating student artworks and sustainability

Art festivals and exhibitions were popular in 2023! Last October, Phare Ponleu Selpak and AFD – Agence Française de Développement – joined forces to bring a new art festival to Battambang Province entitled: បាត់ដំបងក្នុងក្តីស្រមៃ / Battambang imaginée : l’art pour construire demain.

The festival featured several student artworks from the Phare Visual and Applied Arts School (VAAS) along the theme of imagining the future of Battambang in the year 2030.

Read this year’s #4 most popular post to learn more about the art festival and the student artworks it featured.


#3: Join Us for the Sangker River Run: A 30 km Fundraiser Run (or Cycle!) for Phare Ponleu Selpak

Learn how to get involved in the Sangker River Run – as a runner, cyclist, volunteer, or sponsor

It’s time to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Phare Ponleu Selpak! That’s right, 2024 is the year that Phare Ponleu Selpak turns 30, and we’re celebrating all year long with a series of special events, fundraisers, art festivals, and more.

To kick the year off, we’re excited to announce the Sangker River Run: 30 km for 30 Years of Phare Ponleu Selpak happening on Saturday 20th January 2024.

Read more about the Sangker River Run in this year’s top 3 blog post – or if you’re interested – donate to support the event fundraiser on SimplyGiving (ongoing through January 2024).


#2: Battambang Water Festival: What It Is & How to Celebrate

Learn more about the Battamang Water Festival happening in October or November in Battambang, Cambodia

If you’re ever traveling to Battambang in October, you might hear people talking about the water festival – or you might find yourself caught in the middle of it unknowingly if you’re down by the Sangker River and surrounded by racing boats and cheering crowds.

Battambang Water Festival is a great event to enjoy and celebrate, but what makes it different from the main Cambodian Water Festival in November?

Read this year’s #2 most popular post to discover the fun of Battambang Water Festival and how you can enjoy and celebrate the holiday.


#1: Vanthan’s Story: How a Phare Music Student Rose to National Stardom

Read Vanthan’s story from being a music student at Phare Performing Arts School to national fame.

Of course, it’s Vanthan!

LY Vanthan – better known today as just “Vanthan” – is a multi-talented singer, songwriter, record producer, and instrumentalist. You probably know him as the musician behind “Khmer Gentleman,” but did you know that Vanthan is also an alumnus of Phare Performing Arts School?

Coming in at the most popular blog post of 2023, in his own words, this is Vanthan’s story from humble origins in Battambang to becoming one of Cambodia’s most popular music stars.


It’s been great counting down this year’s most popular blog posts with you. It’s been a fantastic year of forming new friendships, encountering new ideas, and experiencing the arts like never before. We’re glad you joined us as a friend, volunteer, donor, or partner of Phare Ponleu Selpak.

We can’t wait to see what 2024 – our 30th anniversary! – holds for the Phare community as we celebrate and strive for another 30 years of changing lives through the arts. This is our last blog post of 2023 – see you next year!


Make your year-end giving count: Contribute to Phare Ponleu Selpak and help change the lives of Cambodian children and youth through the power of the arts.


Bryce W. Merkl Sasaki at Phare Ponleu Selpak
Bryce W. Merkl Sasaki works as the Communications & Media Manager at Phare Ponleu Selpak. He believes in the transformative power of the arts to make us fully human and fully alive. In his free time, he writes poetry and is working on a science fiction novel.