This summer, John Myler ’24 spent time volunteering with the Ponheary Ly Foundation (PLF)—a nonprofit organization that promotes access to quality education for children and young people in Siem Reap and Preah Vihear provinces in northern Cambodia.
“PLF creates learning centers and schools to support the poor children in Cambodia,” said Myler. “I mainly worked at the school at Knar, a small village outside of Siem Reap, and the name of the school itself. This school has three classrooms and a small library.”
Myler describes the classes he taught as “fluid.” He primarily taught students about microscopes and had a secondary focus on basic engineering skills through problem-solving.
“Think Rube Goldberg, but I primarily taught the kids how to use microscopes because that was what needed to be taught and that was something I understood. I am planning a full engineering course for next year, and I am going to try to bring Model UN to the schools.”
In Cambodia, he primarily spent his time teaching and running a field day of sorts for the kids, as they had never had one before. He also went hiking through the various temples around Siem Reap like Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom.
At the heart of it all, Myler did all he was able to so he could give students the quality education they deserve.
“I wanted to see what other parts of the world were like and do a little to help children who are just trying to educate themselves. My family has been going out to help every year since 2006, and this is the first time I got to go. It was humbling and showed me how much I have and how easy my access to education is compared to these kids.”
Many would ask where Myler gets his good-natured spirit and willingness to help. The answer: his grandmother.
“My late grandmother recognized the good and bad in life and devoted a good portion of her own life to helping those in need. She inspired my whole family to be better and to help the less fortunate.”
Since childhood, Myler has been interested in two things: history and science, particularly engineering.
“I grew up watching shows like How It’s Made and Mythbusters, which greatly influenced me as a child,” added Myler. “These influences are what initially sparked my interest. My goal is to pursue a career in aerospace engineering and hopefully work at NASA designing new technology.”
Myler hails from Manhattan and has lived here his whole life.
“I was drawn to Xavier because my uncle Kim Curtin ’71 is an alumnus and other people had recommended Xavier to me,” said Myler. "My grandmother also always wanted me to go, so here I am!”
At Xavier, Myler finds himself involved in myriad activities—JROTC, Engineering Club, the Irish-American Society, Ski and Snowboard Club, Sci-Fi Club, and Model UN. He looks forward to bringing his knowledge up to the Gannon STEAM Lab in classes such as Architectural Design and 3D Modeling during his senior year.
He looks forward to returning to Cambodia to work with PLF next year and to similar opportunities in the future.
“This trip helped me see who I am and who I want to be down the line.”