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FEATURE: Farewell to the 2020 Fellowship Officials

18 Jan 2021

Life as a Fellowship Official at AFoCO

AFoCO held a Certificate Award Ceremony on 18 December to celebrate the achievements of our fellowship officials and congratulate them on the successful completion of the 2020 AFoCO Fellowship Program. Mr. Vireak Chhorn (Forest Administration, Cambodia), Mr. Lhab Tshering (Department of Forests and Park Services, Bhutan), and Mr. Nguyen Duy Vuong (Vietnam National University of Forestry, Viet Nam) have contributed their expertise through various projects and events and formed strong bonds with the Secretariat team during their time in Korea. Read more about their experiences in Korea!


(L to R) Mr. Vireak Chhorn (Forest Administration, Cambodia); Mr. Nguyen Duy Vuong (Vietnam National University of Forestry); and Mr. Lhab Tshering (Dept. of Forests and Park Services, Bhutan)

Tell us about yourself!

“My name is Lhab Tshering and I work as a Forestry Officer under the Forest Resources Management Division of Bhutan’s Department of Forests and Park Services. As a Fellowship Official in the Project Development and Evaluation Team of the Secretariat, I helped to develop new project concepts and proposals and review project proposals submitted by member countries. I was also actively involved in the development of partnership projects and programs with AFoCO’s partner organizations.”
– Lhab Tshering, Bhutan

“I pursued a master’s degree in forest management in Kangwon National University and returned to the Forestry Administrtation in 2018 as a deputy chief of office in charge of international cooperation. During my stint in AFoCO, I was a part of the Strategy and Outreach Team, which is responsible for the strategic management of the organization and implemention of outreach activities to explore potential partnerships, access funds and increase the orgnization’s visibility.”
– Vireak Chhorn, Cambodia

“I am Nguyen Duy Vuong, a staff of International Cooperation Division in the Vietnam National University of Forestry. I was a Fellowship Official in the Project Implementation and Monitoring team of the Secretariat. My main responsibility is to assist in project progress monitoring.”
Nguyen Duy Vuong, Viet Nam


Describe some assignments you were engaged in!

“One of the important assignments I was engaged in AFoCO is the development of the Landscape Partnership for Asia (LPA). Along with my team, I was also involved in development of several Secretariat-led project concepts and proposals and the development of the Guidelines on Environmental and Social Management System of AFoCO. The review of project concept notes and proposals submitted by the AFoCO member countries was also one of my main responsibilities in AFoCO.”
– Lhab Tshering, Bhutan

“I was involved in quite a number of tasks but here, I would like to share about three most unforgettable experiences. The opportunity to work on resource mobilization helped resolved my questions on how international organizations get funds and manage them to operate their activities. I assisted in drafting the Resource Mobilization Strategy for AFoCO, and by doing so, I was able to gain a deeper understanding AFoCO enhance my knowledge by exploring and reviewing the documents of other international organizations. For my assignment related to policy relevance, I collected forest-related policies of the AFoCO’s member countries and consolidated them into a single document. I worked on the draft forestry baseline and informational documents of individual countries, also known as the Country Profile and Context (CPC). I had a chance to draft the CPC for four countries — the CLMV countries Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Viet Nam. This work inspired me to pursue a higher degree in forestry policy. Last but not least, I worked on the publication of the Khmer version of the comic-based textbook, Exploring the Forest with Tory and Sully. The English version has already been published and my job was to translate it to Khmer. However, the publication of a book is not a simple task. I can go faster alone, but I cannot go further. Indeed, we need to work with others such as the authors, proofreaders, peer reviewers, and designers. I learned that one cannot work alone in order to produce a perfect output. Teamwork is extremely important.”
– Vireak Chhorn, Cambodia

“During my time in AFoCO, I assisted in the development of a Project Implementation Plan (PIP) matrix, which is a detailed plan of the Project (physical and financial) covering the whole duration of the Project; supported the organization of annual Project Inception Meetings (PIM) and Project Steering Committee (PSC) meetings with the implementing agencies (IAs) in member countries; helped consolidate the monthly project updates from the IAs for the monthly meeting of the Secretariat; and drafted project-related news articles for the website. It has been a big honor and pleasure for me to working in AFoCO in a year 2020. I have a chance to work with professionalism colleagues and perfect working environment in AFoCO. I have learned a lot of basic knowledge of forest project development and Korean culture which I can apply to my career in the future. Although the Covid-19 pandemic was very complicated, affecting my activities, but I still have wonderful opportunities to learn and experience through field trips and study visits.”
– Nguyen Duy Vuong, Viet Nam


2020 Fellowship Officials interacting with Dr. Park Chongho, Minister of the Korea Forest Service, during a study visit in September 2020


What did you take away from your time at AFoCO?

“One of my biggest achievements through the program is the development of good working relations with professionals of AFoCO’s partner organizations and officials from the member countries. These strengthened working relations will go a long way in future collaborations and partnership to work towards our common interest in the field of sustainable forest management. Through the AFoCO Fellowship Program, I gained a greater appreciation of the operation and procedural matters of an intergovernmental organization. The program added to my existing knowledge on various aspects of project development and implementation. The field visits to KFS Headquarters, Regional Offices and Centers were a great learning experience during the fellowship program which helped me enhance my knowledge on forest restoration, rehabilitation, recreation and technology (such as forest fire aviation/management, drone, seed and gene bank technology) in the Republic of Korea. I feel that these knowledge and technologies can be shared and implemented in my country with some amount of customization as similar issues and needs exist there too. Through these visits, I saw a possibility of greater collaboration between the Korea and Bhutan on various aspects of sustainable forest management and technological advancement.”
– Lhab Tshering, Bhutan

“It is a privilege to have had the chance to expose myself to the working environment in an international organization. The AFoCO Fellowship Program is perfect platform to incubate professional skill of junior officers. It is just like a fertile soil that provides full nutrients to the trees to grow healthy and in return, they are able to provide their services and benefits back to the environment. I found a big difference in myself in terms of professional skill after a year joining this program. There are many junior government officials like me who really need such a comprehensive capacity building program.”
– Vireak Chhorn, Cambodia

“After a year, my communication skills have improved greatly and I learned a lot of about the development of international projects, project implementation as well as project monitoring and management. I learned methods for effective project management and tools for evaluation, analysis, and monitoring. My knowledge of forestry in Asia has has also improved, especially with an overview of the forestry sector in Asia through the projects of the AFoCO member countries. From the study visits, I got to visit and learn about plantation and sustainable forest management in Korea, and advanced technologies and useful techniques applied in the protection, plantation and management of forests. “
– Nguyen Duy Vuong, Viet Nam


Any tips for the 2021 Fellowship Officials?

“Knowing some Korean language will definitely make living in Korea much more convenient. However, one can still adjust to the environment in Seoul as the city has large number of working youths and most of them can communicate in English. Weekends are the best time to explore Seoul city and other parts of Korea as it is the best time to understand the culture, the food and way of life in Korea. There are a number of hiking trails (Bukhansan National Park trails, Ansan Jarak-gil trail, etc.) in the outskirts of Seoul which are spots to connect with nature. One can see the beautiful view of the city from the summit of the mountains. All in all, Korea provides a much needed exposure and memories that one can cherish for a lifetime.”
– Lhab Tshering, Bhutan

There are several things, but here I would like to leave one message for the next batch and other prospective fellowship officials: Enjoy and try all your best to complete the provided tasks, notwithstanding those that are very new to you because insights will be born from your hardship, and they will be a source of great knowledge and experience.”
– Vireak Chhorn, Cambodia


The AFoCO Fellowship Program welcomes junior government officials of AFoCO member countries who are dispatched to the AFoCO Secretariat for a duration of 6 months to a year to experience working in an international organization. Operated on an annual basis, the AFP aims to establish an effective communication network between member countries and the Secretariat, facilitate close cooperation with member countries, and help improve better understanding of the working environment and procedural matters in order to facilitate the smooth implementation of projects and activities.

INFORMATION ON AFoCO FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM

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