How I change Cambodia 2018-2019

My academic year has been wrapped around the quote, “if you want to change the world, start with yourself,” by a well-known hero, Mahatma Gandhi. A few weeks into the academic calendar, I found myself losing interest in (fictional) novels; I no longer enjoy reading fantasy or adventure books. I picked up books like, “Unmade in China” by Jeremy R. Haft, “Insight Out: Get Ideas Out of Your Head and Into the World” by Tina Seelig, and “Winning the Brain Game: Fixing the 7 Fatal Flaws of Thinking” by Matthew E. May; at that moment I knew I was going through a dramatic change.

“Don’t cry honey, mommy will hit the earth for you,” Mother said when I tripped while learning to walk. Years later, I, age seven, said the exact same phase to my younger sister, replacing mommy with big sister. Unaware back then, I subconsciously learned to point finger at a scapegoat for my shortcoming or failure and even taught it to my sister.

I did not notice this growing up until now. I started reaching deep within myself. I contemplate and see flaws in little things. It’s like I’m in a whole new world. Rather than looking at only the big pictures, I also focus on the small details because that is where changes start. I thought about many problems that I see in my country: gender equity; lack of health knowledge (both physical and metal); Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing (IUU); excessive use of packaging especially plastic packaging; and a lack of career and college counseling for students in public schools.

I knew that I can’t work to change all the areas I’ve identified at once, so I decided to work on a few that I felt most passionately about. I initiated a project called Chatting Through. I see that many students in public schools have a hard time planning their future in the traditional learning curriculum they are immersed. I wanted to do something about this. With some research, I learned that the Ministry of Education, Youths, and Sports (MOEYS) of Cambodia also see what I see. That was why MOEYS created and launched an app, Trey Visay, in 2018 that would help students choose their career path. Although this app has a very high potential for change, it does not seem to gain a lot of support—only 1K+ downloads. This means that the app does not fulfill what the students need or is not known to students. With that, I thought to myself: I am not a certified counselor, but I can help students find counsel.

Chatting Through became the platform where I reflect and change myself. It’s where I make change while also learning to change myself. I had to pull myself out of my comfort zone and bring discussion to to an unspoken topic.  “Strangers know nothing about you; you get to reinvent yourself,” was said to me by my English literacy teacher. I’ve never believed it until recently. I say and rehearse my speech in my head before saying it; I faked it until I made it. I pushed myself to ask for help which is something I had always viewed as vulnerable. Now, I understand that asking for a favour is not weak. I change from being independent to inter-independent; independent while also dependent on others. Through this project, I know that I have inspired high school students to think about their future and career planning. I know that I have provided them scholarship information that is unbeknown to them. I know I have lit a candle in the dark. I also know that I have changed myself to better impact my country.

I’ve learned not to take things personally and react differently to unexpected situations. I can’t expect strangers to trust me or act in ways I’ve expected them to. I can’t expect them to believe in what I believe. To make change, it takes time and trust. It takes all parties to believe in a mission to make change.

I’ve changed and grown so much this year. Though sometimes it feels too much, I am grateful for it. I now see and can tell my younger sister that the earth is not the blame for our failure to walk; life is about walking and never stop no matter how slow we walk. It’s up to us to push through even when the surface of the earth can sometimes be muddy, steep, slippery, or cold because it helps us grow and discover our potential. It’s not about how we fall, but how we get up.

Changing Cambodia 2017-2018

The day I became a certified SCUBA diver was celebrated with underwater fireworks. It was an unforgettable memory. That night, as soon as I entered the water from the pier, sparkles of light lit up all around me. They were brighter than any night-stars I had ever seen. I dove deep into the water and waft my limbs to spark up the dark sea. Every time I swim in bioluminescence felt like the first time. I felt the excitement in my gut and the rush of emotions. I wanted to shout to the world. I want to tell the world that our beautiful ocean and underwater gardens are slowly being destroyed by us. I want the world to know about the work that Marine Conservation Cambodia (MCC) had done. I want them to see all the sleepless nights that MCC spent patrolling the Kep archipelago (Koh Seh Island)—Cambodia. They put the ocean in front of their lives; chasing after the illegal fishermen. But, above all else, I want the world to know that the effort we put into protecting our ocean is not enough. About 71% of the Earth is covered by the ocean blanket—yet only a small portion of that is being protected. The work from organizations like MCC is not enough, to establish a protected ocean, it requires the attention and participation from all of us; and  I was ready to be a part of it.


On a  Friday, May fifth,  2017, I submitted a form for a three-year-long marine research project that would be partnering with MCC. Three days later, I found out that I and seven other students were selected to be a part of the Liger Marine Research Team (MLRT). As a team, LMRT tried applying for Rolex Explorer Grant, but unfortunately, it wasn’t a success. Later, LMRT got a grant from Laguntza Foundation, and since the first trip to Koh Seh island on September 28th, 2017, the team tried going back every month.


Oftentimes while I was on Koh Seh, I felt scorned to see how few Cambodians are working to protect their own ocean, but, at the same time, I feel encouraged. When I closed my eyes, I could see a group of fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen-year-olds who will model for their country. I could see a group of young Cambodian teenagers who show their potential to the world and provoke Cambodians and the world to care for their ocean.


Although LMRT hasn’t made a huge impact to Cambodia, it is at the verge of it and I have so much pride for it. By just existing, LMRT has already grabbed people’s attention to the ocean. LMRT has now deployed a concrete block structure—also known as Conservation and anti-trawling structures (CANTS). A modified version reef check international survey was and will be conducted to study the rehabilitation of the endangered fish species in Cambodia; a research report will a product from this project. With the report, LMRT will be able to speak on behalf of the ocean, to the Cambodian government and local citizens to raise the awareness. Nevertheless, LMRT also has a great impact on me. Ever since I joined LMRT, I became a more punctual person. I learn to make better plans and execute them because LMRT put me into situations where I have to keep up with school and make time for the research project at the same time. I never regret joining LMRT; after all these years that I was raised to overlook my impact on my environment, I was able to make up for it.


I was able to join LMRT because I am at a very awesome academy—the Liger Leadership Academy. This place has a very unique curriculum, where students have a lot of freedom to explore themselves and their interest as learners and change agents. Talking about learning curriculums, I am very proud to say that I am a part of writing learning activities for a new school, Bambujaya. I am also delighted to know about this school’s plan of having a new curriculum rather than teaching students through the traditional ways of sitting in the classroom and memorizing facts. I hope the work I put into writing the learning activities will pay off. I want students to learn with more freedom and think outside the box. I am hoping the Kids will like the activities created and to see them go out and make an impact in the world while I am trying to do it myself.


Recalling more impacts I made this year, I realized that this seems like a long year for me and I had done a lot. I got more involved in social programs this year. I volunteered for Khmer Sight Foundation, in which I was a part of helping the villagers bring back their sight. It was a great experience for me; I like the pleasure of helping people. I also volunteered to interview villagers who live around Camkids. the data from the interview were used by a team of Liger students to assess how Camkids has impacted the lives the villagers there. The analysis will then be put on the Camkids website for the  potential donors for this foundation. Another social program I did was giving a speech about gender and sexuality at Youth Talk which is organized monthly at Meta House. I talked about my personal experience and urge people to be more conscious about this sensitive subject.

These are small steps for me in changing Cambodia this year, and I hope these steps will inspire more steps. This has become a mantra to me now—to promote for the spirit for making positive changes in people and to make the voice of the youth of Cambodia be heard. I acknowledge that small changes and movements that people make do have an impact to the whole community, but I believe that there should be more people joining the movements to make a greater impact. I am advocating for this and I am going to it with small steps at a time.

Changing Cambodia 2016-2017

School gets more intense as we get older. In this school year, the first year of  high school I had been in a lot of explorations that have the potential to make changes in Cambodia, for instance, the Game Design, and Waste Management exploration.


It might sound silly to say being in a Game Designing exploration has the potential to make changes Cambodia, but this exploration does has the potential to shape this country. Through this exploration, we found that not many public school students have the knowledge of climate change and how it affects us. Due to this fact, and the fact that climate change is a current global problem we decided to make a game that is aimed to be fun and educational. So far, it isn’t completely done yet, but hopefully it will be ready shortly. Through playing this climate change board game that we had created, the students or anyone can learn about climate change and/or review anything they wish to. I and my team strongly believe that this game will raise the awareness of climate change, and perhaps get people to take action no matter if it is big or small. There were lots and lots of challenges in this exploration, but over time we learned to solve them.We have our favorite quote of our exploration that states, “Failing is not trying.” This quote kept me and  my team to try and do things at risk and overcome our “fear of failure”. An example of something we did was when we change the mechanics of the game or changing parts of the game without being afraid of failing, all we did was play-test the game and see if it works or taking the game to the next level. As mentioned before, the game isn’t completly, but hopefully, it will be in the near future because the only work that need to be done is getting it manufactured and/or improve the game because improvements never stop.


Waste Management is also a good example of a Changing-Cambodia exploration. The goal of the exploration is to educate farmers about the importance of waste management and how they can use their organic waste to turn it into something beneficial___compost. I really hope that this exploration will help to improve the environmental status, because if more people are making compost, then the amount of trash in the community will be reduced and the organic waste will help to save people’s money and potentially bring them money through selling their compost. To accomplish this goal, our team interviewed a lot of people about compost and their waste management method as well as trying to find the potential supplier(s) and buyer(s) of compost. Through this, our exploration will be able to start the project at a small scale to prove people that this project can really have positive effects for both, the people and the environment, so we will be able expand the project into a larger scale. As many people might have noticed, trash and waste is a really big problem in Cambodia especially plastic, if this exploration can really work some unestimated amount of trash would be reduced and someplace might become less aromatic.


Overall I feel as though I became an adult this year. I feel so much wiser now although I can get very silly sometimes. I feel like I and the rest of liger students are making some really good move for making big changes in Cambodia, our national country. Not only that I feel proud of myself and other Liger students, I feel proud of my village. Recently, there had been a dance club almost directly in front of my house. The club was  made for anyone at any age to go and dance every evening as their exercise. I thought the idea of a dance club is a great one, because many middle-aged and old people around my village have diabetic and/or hypertension disease, and exercising is a really good thing for them. Seeing this change the people are making in my village inspire me to think of something to do as a change agent. I at least distribute the scoliosis papers during the summer break, but I am hoping to come up with something big and change my village. I had been thinking about making a community saving, where a group of people would save money together and anyone could borrow the money anytime without having to pay interest, but the payment time have to decided by the group. Through, observation I realized that my idea would take a long time to get it to work. Most people there don’t like saving money, and in fact, they like to borrow the money from the bank, the fact that they have to pay to the bak monthly motivated to work harder. These habit and mindset is really hard to change. Often, when I talk to the elder they would tell me to stay out of their business.


Though my plan didn’t work, I will be looking changes to make in my community and in Cambodia. I believed that, everyone can see a lot that could be done better in a small area, and anyone could make a change. I will be watching how my country grow, as I try to help it grow. Soon I’ll be an adult, then I can get in the adult business and give people suggestion more effectively with my new appearance.

Changing Cambodia 2015-2016

This year is the year that I felt very proud of myself. I got involved in a project that could possibly change the whole country. It was the Project Evaluation exploration. In this exploration I and my team has to work to evaluate whether Project-based learning could be implemented in Cambodian public school or not. My team work with the other two teams which are STEM and the Project-based learning team. The two teams are working to introduce the learning method to public while my team is evaluating.It was challenging but no matter my team won’t give up. We’ve done a lot of interviewing and also collecting data. When we finished the evaluation, the result turn out very beautiful. The result shows that it is positive to implement Project-based learning method in Cambodia. Then the government would look at the evaluation result and decide whether they want to implement the learning method in public school. This exploration make me feel like I could change the whole country.The other exploration is the 3D Design In Public School exploration. This is also an exploration to change the learning curriculum. In this exploration I and my team are trying to implement 3D design into the public school. The reason we want to implement 3D design in the public school because the resource schools in Cambodia didn’t use the computer for any particular reason, the students are learning how to type.

Changing Cambodia 2014-2015

The change That I am thinking of changing Cambodia are brig back of Khmer culture, reduce rubbish throw on the ground, technology, education in Cambodia, tourism, economic and violent. The solution that I am thinking of is give more education to Cambodian, so they about the effect of the trash and violent, that they would understand that it is not good to that thing. I want to introduce technology to the Cambodian so it can make their job easier for example introduce them the technology to grow rice so they can make more yield and help economic in their family. I want to change economic in Cambodia by clean the country up make a better service for tourist, so when tourist come a lot. it help them make money. Some of the solution that I am thinking of I have share it to my friend and my sister. For the rubbish problem I try to promote it by telling them the affection of it but it not the change by going on trip sharation at Liger. The actual this year in Liger that I and Agriculture group is sharing the knowledge that we the about the new way to grow rice.

Changing Cambodia 2013-2014

In liger have a lot of exploration but their is an exploration name M.A.D that I have trip to Takeo and Kep. When my M.A.D group went to Takeo we went to Karuna Kuma school to teach them about electricity safty rules. All the rules are what the kid like to play that why I chose all of the rules to teach them. When my group went to Kep we went to Kep garden school and sala monkey school to teach them about electricity safety rules. To the kid about electricity safety rules I and my partner decided to make a book. We draw the pictures to put in our book. Our book have slots with string hang with a card to pull out for get more information about the rules.  In community English I have teach them how to speak better English, and teach them new English word.