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The FEBC International Engineering Service Team (EST) held the first ever ARRL license testing session at National Polytechnic Institute of Cambodia (NPIC) near Phnom Penh, Cambodia. With four EST members accredited as extra class Volunteer Examiners, we just need to coordinate our travel in order to have the required 3 VEs for an official session. It may seem strange to test for USA licenses in Phnom Penh, but there is a good reason. The infrastructure for getting a local license was lost through the bad times of the Khmer Rouge, but the reciprocity agreement between Cambodia and the US is still in effect. That means that if we train up local Khmer folks so that they can pass the US licensing exam, they can then use their new US license to get a Cambodian license. We have two new Technition licenses and an extra class license awarded as a result of the session.
Amateur Radio at NPIC
NPIC renovated their Electronics and Computer Engineering programs some years ago with help from some folks in Korea who we have not been able to identify. We do know that these Koreans were amateur radio operators because they left behind a very complete set of ham radio equipment and antennas. This great shack was sitting idle for some years until the EST, through our locally resident engineer, Mike Adams, made contact with the school and built a relationship with the professors. NPIC thought it might help interest students in radio careers if an amateur radio club could be started and the shack brought back into operation.Some of the professors with the EST in the radio “shack”
Mike Adams (KH0AS) and Guy West (N0MMA), using the reciprocal license agreement received Cambodian licenses XU7AJA and XU7AKA and began the process of checking out the equipment and antennas at NPIC with the help of EST team members David Creel (AH0AM) and Owen Gabbie (ZL1OG). The first year provided opportunities via radio sport competitions to get the professors excited about radio through opportunities to work many countries during international competitive events like the World Wide DX Contest, held each year in November. In the process the NPIC Amateur Radio Club was born. Since anyone can be behind the mic as long as a properly licensed control operator is present, lots of professors and students got to spend time on the radios
What is our motivation?
Why work to bring Amateur Radio back in Cambodia? We have several reasons. First of all, these Khmer folks are great people who are fighting their way back after almost unimaginable destruction of their society. Capacity of local people as engineers and radio technitions and of the institutes of higher learning to train such people was part of what was destroyed. As people who follow Jesus our hearts are broken over what was done and we want to do our part to encourage our Khmer Brothers as they advance their country. Beyond that we know that amateur radio exists to encourage friendship between nations, encourages development of radio technology and provides communications assistance in disaster. Each of these results is good for Cambodia. Finally, we hope by doing our part that one day our local radio stations will be able to hire local people who have been locally trained as engineers and technitions to support the Family FM network and Voice of Love Cambodia NGO.