SAS TASSEL Chapter Presents: “Turn the Page” Gala

On November 3, the SAS TASSEL chapter presented its annual fundraising gala after three months of hard work. This year’s gala was themed “Turn the Page”, a sequel of last year’s gala. The night included an attendance of more than 80 guests, and the venue was well- embellished with exhibits featuring the stories of Cambodians, Cambodia’s timeline showcasing the Khmer Rouge, the lives impacted through the aid given by TASSEL, and even a tour for the guests featuring Cambodia’s past, present, and future.

In order to put together a successful gala night, TASSEL needed a strong member foundation, consisting of individuals with the pure heart to serve the underserved in Cambodia. Bringing on this motivation was not easy either, until the tragic stories surfacing Cambodia were presented. 

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“Sit down if you are wearing Nike, Adidas, or Under Armour,” said senior Megan Cabaero, President of TASSEL, “and sit down if you live around Orchard.”

By the second statement, all the members of TASSEL in the room had sat down, not knowing why though.

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“Better to kill an innocent by mistake than spare an enemy by mistake” – Pol Pot, leader of the Khmer Rouge. Photo Courtesy of Google Images

And soon enough, the members were given a sentimental explanation. The first statement represented how the Khmer regime banned any foreign imports in an attempt to form a classless society; the second statement represented the millions of Cambodians living in urban areas who were forced to evacuate the city and walk miles to start their new lives in rural areas. In these rural areas, they were enslaved to work in farms until death.

But why?

Cambodia was originally a well-established empire until the Khmer Rouge, a communist party led by Pol Pot, took control of it in 1975. During this time, 90% of teachers and doctors were killed, leaving the dire nation with nobody to educate, medicate, and survive to provide hope.

However, change was soon witnessed when TASSEL (Teaching and Sharing Skills to Enrich Lives) was founded by Joji Tatsugi to better the lives of the Cambodians. TASSEL was first brought to SAS in 2014, and ever since it has been on its way to becoming one of the biggest service groups at SAS. It has held many successful galas, opportunities to immerse members in direct service through teaching the English language, and service trips to educate, medicate, and visit the poorest of the poor in Cambodia. 

Change Their Story
In 2017, TASSEL organized a “Change their Story” themed Gala. Photo courtesy of SAS TASSEL Chapter.

Last year, the SAS TASSEL Chapter organized a “Change Their Story” themed Gala which raised over 30K; its purpose was to empathize with many of the miserable stories in Cambodia and offer the opportunity for people to help change these stories. This year, TASSEL has once again organized gala (sequel to “Change Their Story”), called “Turn the Page”,  to reveal how the organization continues to support and impact lives of many impoverished Cambodians. 

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This year’s logo for “Turn the Page” Gala. Photo courtesy of SAS TASSEL Chapter.

This year’s “Turn the Page” Gala, was another success. The entire chapter worked tirelessly to ensure that the night was executed smoothly, and made sure that right message was sent out to the guests: to share love with the underserved and sacrifice some of our luxury to serve them. Not only did the chapter raise over 50K from the event, which well over its initial goal of 40K, but it also helped to share the stories of many Cambodians and spread the message of true service.

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Collage of exhibits and TASSEL members during the Gala night.

 “TASSEL continues to support and impact lives of many impoverished Cambodians.”

As senior Megan Cabaero mentioned, “It was a dream come true to go above and beyond our fundraising goal because we knew that our efforts would make a huge impact on the lives of students, teachers, villagers, and volunteers part of the TASSEL family.” 

The money raised will be going to TASSEL’s general funds, rice support, English Language Training, Teacher Salaries, and much more to continue to change stories and better the lives of many TASSEL families. For more information about TASSEL, feel free to visit: http://www.tasselcambodia.com/

Author: Brenda Lee

Brenda Lee is currently a junior, and this is her first year as a reporter for The Eye. This is her sixth year studying in Singapore American School, and despite coming from a Korean, American, and Hong Kong background, she considers Singapore her home. In her free time, she loves to indulge in bubble tea and consume food from all kinds of cuisine. In addition, she finds happiness in travelling around the globe and exposing herself to different cultures. She can be contacted at lee45288@sas.edu.sg.

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