Rene Pereira is a Senior Associate at KPMG, one of the world’s largest professional services companies, and is living in Dallas, Texas, USA. Earning her Bachelors in Supply Chain Management and Marketing at Texas Christian University, Rene advises companies on how to improve their sourcing strategies and procurement costs. Rene agrees that the best part of her professional life right now is working as a consultant because it resonates with her lifelong goal to help and serve others.
Coming from a Nepali and Indian family, and growing up in Cambodia and India, Rene laughs when admitting that she is an ‘honorary Texan’ having now lived there the longest out of any other place. Nevertheless, Rene knows her “heart” is in Asia, and she can feel the call of home growing louder.
Rene was one of ISPP’s first students, arriving in Cambodia at the end of 1989. She relates her childhood in Phnom Penh to the adventures had by Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn: as there were no cafes, cinemas, cable TV, and very few shops in the city in the early 1990s, kids had to make their own fun. “There was never a dull moment”, Rene reminisces, describing herself as always wearing flip flops, and riding a bicycle to go from one friend’s home to another. When she wasn’t playing badminton or climbing trees, she had her head in a book, devouring one Nancy Drew novel after another. Rene remembers that one of the most exciting times of the year was when ISPP offered a book delivery service, allowing families to order children’s book to be delivered via a shipping freight when Phnom Penh had no English-language book shops. “We were so excited to get our packages of new books!” Rene happily recalls.
Even after she left Cambodia in 1997 to complete school in India, Rene returned during her gap year before university to work at White Lotus, a holistic ministry for women and girls in Cambodia started by two of Rene’s former teachers at ISPP, Sherry Lile and Debbie Tetsch. “I am thankful for this opportunity and the risk that Sherry and Debbie took by allowing me to work with them,” Rene says, acknowledging how this experience exposed her to a different side of Cambodia, outside the safety of ISPP’s walls.
Rene, top row, second from right, smiling for a school photo during ISPP’s early years circa 1990.
This risk-taking applies to many of Rene’s teachers from ISPP, whom she appreciates for relocating their lives to post-conflict Cambodia in order to teach students more than their ABCs. Another important learning experience for Rene was when the first Student Council was formed. Rene remembers running for elections and trying to get votes. Once she was elected, she worked with her fellow officers to raise enough money to buy a water cooler for both students and teachers. She credits her teachers for encouraging student leadership, and she especially sends her gratitude to teachers like Ms. Barclay (formerly Ms. Frey), Mrs. French, Ms. Harvey Bailey, and Mrs. Oliver – who taught Rene’s class to sing ‘Yesterday’ by the Beatles. She affirms, “I never felt like I had to go to school. I wanted to be there everyday!”
These happy memories are some of the reasons Rene considers Phnom Penh her home town. Moreover, her parents continue to reside here, and her mother still runs Mt. Mansalu, a Nepali restaurant on St 282 in Boeung Keng Kang.
Rene, top right, having fun with her middle school friends at ISPP.