May 23, 2017

In 2004, the School of Social Work received a request from Cambodia's Royal University in Phnom Penh (RUPP) to help start its first social work department. At the time, Cambodia was ranked one of the poorest countries in the world, yet it was filled with motivated young people eager to gain new skills and improve the quality of life for the next generation.

The years of hard work paid off. In May, the RUPP Department of Social Work became the first higher education entity in Cambodia to receive accreditation status from the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities. The RUPP program is the ninth institution to be accredited by PAASCU for social work.

“This is a pretty awesome first to have,” said Tracy Harachi, School of Social Work associate professor and Cambodia Partnership program director. “Many people contributed. It truly takes a village.”

Cambodia was ready for such a partnership program. The country has witnessed multiple legacies of genocide, civil war and colonization, and its citizens continue to rebuild the health and social infrastructure of their war-torn country.

Even though the RUPP social work department was established in 2008, the partnership began a few years earlier when Harachi started bringing promising students from Cambodia to study for their master’s degree in social work at the University of Washington. These individuals returned to Cambodia as core faculty members to start RUPP’s Department of Social Work. Nearly a decade later, the School of Social Work continues to mentor the Cambodian faculty,

In the RUPP class of 2016, 25 BSW degree holders entered the work force as professional social workers, bringing the total number of Cambodian social workers to 106. Graduates are in high demand by local employers, demonstrating the value conferred by RUPP’s social work degree.