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Life after CESL: Zhao Chunlei works for the Vis East Moot Foundation
Last Modified:  2016-01-05 15:43:48
My name is Chunlei Zhao and I am a graduate of CESL Double Master Program. Currently I am working for the Vis East Moot Foundation ( “VEMF”) Capacity Building Project ( “CBP”) as a moot coach in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I would like to share with you my life and working experience here.

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(The second from the right side is Zhao Chunlei)

My Motivation to Go to Cambodia
I decided to come to Cambodia and work for the VEMF because I know how important the Vis experience is for law school students and how much they will benefit from it if they devote themselves to the preparation for this competition.

As to me, it is Vis experience that changed my life track and I really appreciate it. I wish more students could realize how helpful this is and benefit from it like I did. Therefore, when I got the news that the VEMF CBP were willing to get help from a former mootie this year, I heard voices telling me that I should do it.

My Work in Cambodia
The VEMF CBP is an ongoing legal educational program in developing countries. [1] The goal of the project in Cambodia is not only to provide the knowledge and skills necessary for students to participate successfully in the Vis Moot competition, but also to create a sustainable framework and resource base in Cambodia for future training of international lawyers and business executives to conduct international arbitrations on behalf of both foreign and Cambodian parties. [2]

The key part of my job here is coaching, organizing and mentoring two Vis teams of two Cambodian universities: the Royal University of Law and Economics and the National University of Management. I met students every week at least once during weekends to do an intensive coaching session and spent another two days on each campus offering time for Q&A and private discussions. I took efforts in helping students analyze issues, search for authorities and draft memorandums. Besides that, oral advocacy practice was also covered.

The preparation of Vis competition is quite hard here. The students do not have dedicated experienced faculty coaches, vast libraries, access to internet research or adequate funding for travel, needless to say a sophisticated community of arbitration practitioners ready to assist them. Although there are many difficulties in working here, I can always recharge myself from the student’s kindness, appreciation and willing to learn.

My Life in Cambodia
With the dubious distinction of being one of the most corrupted nations in Asia, [3] Cambodia is also one of the poorest nations in the world. The country faces numerous challenges and sociopolitical issues, including widespread poverty, pervasive corruption, lack of political freedoms, low human development, and a high rate of hunger. [4]

Although I have several experiences of living and studying in different foreign countries while I was a student of CESL, but working in such a country, which is so different from the countries I have ever been to for almost three months is a new experience to me. As a foreigner here, the two biggest difficulties to me are transportation with its chaotic rules and diet. Although there were different inconveniences and difficulties, fortunately, I got enough support and selfless help from different people, including but not limited to the local students, program directors of both universities and my dear Prof. Susan Wintermuth. Their selfless help and care add warm elements to my life abroad.

The Beauty of Cambodia
I believe that the “Angkor Wat Mysterious Smile of Buddha” is not unfamiliar to you. Although the working schedule is tight here, I visited several important sights in my spare time: Royal Palace, National Museum and Angkor Wat. They introduce me to either the highlighting points in the Khmer history, or the amazing beauty of the culture of Cambodia. I was so attracted and touched by each one of them.

The End is also the Start
Now the work in Cambodia is coming to the end and I will start my PhD study in the Netherlands.
I really appreciate my working experience in Cambodia. I enjoyed the time in lecturing the students, questioning the students, discussing law and practicing with them. Vis Moot experience changed my life and I would like to continue working on this in the future.

Article by ZHAO Chunlei , Double master graduate from 2012 intake
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Zhao Chunlei graduated from the China-EU School of Law in 2015. As a CESL student, she won the Chinese National Scholarship for postgraduate students, the O'Melveny & Myers Beijing Legal Scholarship and the CESL Special Grade Scholarship for Academic Excellence. In addition, she took part in several moot court competitions and won several prizes for the school, including leading the CESL Vis Team to the second runner-up position in the Vis East Competition in 2014. Since 2016, Chunlei is a PhD candidate at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.
[1] Available at: http://www.cisgmoot.org/en-US/Event/5, last visit: Dec. 31, 2015.
[2] Louise Barrington, Mooties Making A Difference: Reaching Out To Build In Cambodia, available at:
[3] Transparency International in 2014 ranked Cambodia 156th of 174 nations evaluated, and lowest in East Asia.