In math class this year, we focused on statistics to prepare the advanced placement statistics test (AP Stat) on May 17th. Throughout the course, we’ve explored countless topics including reading, describing and constructing graphs, planning and conducting survey and experiment, and conducting data analysis. The course was challenging especially when a lot of the wording in the courses were hard for me to understand. An example is when I was trying to understand the difference between type one and type two error. Type one is defined as the rejection of a of a true null hypothesis, and type two is described as failing to reject a false null hypothesis. It took quite some time to used to the hang of these terms and do still have mixed in my head today but somehow I manage to make it through the AP test with a qualified grade.
On Wednesday, May 23rd, all the senior students were all dressed up real professional. We were about to attend our whole day for the Model United Nation (MUN) that will be done all it Khmer. It was the first ever Khmer MUN for high school students in Cambodia. I was nervous and excited at the same time. It was my first MUN. The topics for the discussion are the hot topics for the country I was supposed to represent; Bangladesh. The topics were, feeding the world growing billions and air quality control and pollution. I knew have to talk a lot and prepare to answer questions as the delegate of Bangladesh. I did as much research I could, and was prepared to be a delegate.
At first, giving the opening speech was scary to me. I practiced my speech a couple of times the night before and managed to keep it under one minute. When the chair banged the gong to tell me that I was halfway through my speech duration (30 seconds), I panicked. I wasn’t sure if I could finish my speech, but when I looked at my written speech, I realized I had only had two short paragraphs to go. I was glad. I went through my speech as confident and smooth as I can be and made it all the way through. After my opening speech, I gained some confidence. I started raising my country flag to question other delegate and made speeches against points are against my country’ position or view. At the end of the day, I felt really proud of myself. All the effort I put into researching was worth it, although I didn‘t use some of the information from my research. I was really fun. I like the idea of being a representative of a country and make for it. I also liked seeing my friends dressing up really professional.
As the Khmer New Year (KNY) had passed and the end of this school year and AP tests are approaching day by day, school got loosen up and more concentrated on the (AP) tests. However, we are still doing all the exciting things, like exploration and essentials. In essentials, we are learning about light and color, working on doing a Model Unite Natation (MUN) in Khmer, preparing the AP test(s), for me it’s the AP statistics test, and writing KNY inspired creative short story. Of all the exciting things we do at Liger, writing the KNY inspired story is one of my favorites because it got me thinking creatively and worry less about the upcoming test. The inspiration for my story came from a time when I was going to a pagoda (a religious temple) to watch Lkoun Basac, a type of Khmer play which involves a lot of singing. While I was waiting for the play to start I wandered around and watch the dunk tank game. The dunk tank game is organized to raise funds for the pagoda. Usually, there would be a girl sitting on the peddle and boys and men would be the one buying the balls and throw them toward the target to drop the girl into the water. That night no girl volunteered to sit on the levitating seat. Everything turned into a twist, a boy volunteered and sit on the seat and at that moment the game got more exciting than usual. Both girls and boys played the game and tried to make him fall into the water. He was pretty funny, he even danced. I thought he was amazing breaking the gender stereotype of the game. I really wanted to talk to him but I didn’t get a chance too. In my story, he is represented as Ketzoe and I am represented as Zoenger. Because I really wished I had talked with him I came up with a story about me searching for him. As brainstorm more and more ideas, my story became something I had never expect, but I like it. Below is the Summary of my story (Ketzoenger).
Every new year, Zoenger would wear the last dress that her younger brother (Ketzoe) had made her before he disappeared and go to Quelleen to pray for him. Five years ago, Zoenger’s family was told by the cops that they found no trace of Ketzoe. The cops suggested that he had died, but Zoenger was not convinced. She believes that Ketzoe is still alive and will reunite his family one day. This year, while Zoenger was at Quelleen, another girl her age bumped into her and ruined her dress with a drink. It was Xenvie, the daughter of a cop the most famous clothes designer. Zoenger was furious. She cried loudly demanding for Xenvie to apologise. From the cry, people who were visiting Quelleen put their eyes on Zoenger and Xenvie. Feeling embarrassed, Xenvie gave Zoenger the ring she had stolen from her father and said that she was sorry then drove away. Pissed by Xenvie’s attitude, Zoenger threw the ring on the ground and discovered its secret. Zoenger was sure she saw a beam of light shining out of the ring. She picked it up and found a button embedded on it. She went home, clicked the button on the ring and see what would happen. Right after she pressed the button, a hologram of her brother was projected from the ring. After all, she was glad she encountered Xenvie. Her brother had grown over the course of five years, but she can still recognize him. She can see him working on designing a dress. He’s an expert in sewing and clothes designing. As Zoenger watch her brother more closely, something snapped inside her head. She came to the conclusion that her brother might be used by Xenvie’s dad, because Ketzoe would not draw the Fetris logo in his design and beside Fetris had just been opened four years ago. Zoenger knows that she can’t tell this to the cop because Xenvie’s mom is head of all the cops in Udaine. Zoenger knows that she has to investigate this case and save her brother by herself. Zoenger kept watching her brother until the hologram slowly dies off. By then she had a plan and list of places that her brother may be in based on the hologram she had seen. Over the next month, Zoenger spent her time spying on Xenvie’s dad and bike places to find her brother, crossing her list of places as time went by. By the next month Zoenger was able to come with another plan and bring her brother back home. The unbreakable bond between now 15-year-old Ketzoe and 17-year-old Zoenger light up the house once again and that is why they are called Ketzoenger.
One of the units in literacy this year is Gender. In class, we learned about gender through a lot of reading and class discussion. Once, we had a decent understanding of gender, we were assigned to write a news article about it. The article would be about anything that is related to gender, so I decided to write something that I can share my personal experience as well as to emphasize the gender issue in Cambodia. Below is my news article, and I hope you would enjoy it.
“You must be my first gay client,” the barber said to me, when I told him I wanted a hair, a “boy’s haircut.”
Already, I was labeled, before my appearance had even changed.
I thought Cambodians had learned to accept the idea of “breaking gender norm.” They praise the people who have done it, like Sorn Seavmey, the Cambodian female athlete who does Taekwondo and wins gold medals. They even praise women who join the military force, which is considered a man’s job to protect his own country.
But, they hadn’t.
Why can’t people accept, “Dressing is how a person express themselves?”_This was the thought that came to my mind, as heat was burning inside of me, thinking of the comment the barber made.
I decided that I want to inform people that stereotypes do not define everyone. I stayed there, and got my haircut, ignoring the way people were making fun of me.
“Oh, now you look handsome,” the barber said half chuckling when he finished cutting my hair.
I didn’t know what the chuckle meant, but I knew one thing for sure, it made me feel bad. Because of gender expectations, I am supposed to have long hair and I don’t. Does that mean I should be embarrassed? Does that mean people can make fun of me as much as they wish to?
How many people in Cambodia, will have to go through this kind of experience?
Why is it so hard for Cambodians to accept people who dress differently from what their gender is “supposed” to be, and those who fall into the LGBTQ+ category?
By far, there is no real answer to this question. However, there are a few possible reasons according to the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and some other new media including Phnom Penh Post.
(1) The lack of understanding of sexuality and gender. The idea of sexual orientation and gender is a new concept to Cambodia. This country barely has any words to describe gender or sexuality, expect for five words which are still fairly ambiguous. (1 and 2) Srei and pros, meaning “a human being of the female sex,” and “a human being of the male sex,” the words that Cambodian generally use to describe gender. (3 and 4) The word “gni,” and “chhmol,” also indicate gender, meaning “female” and “male”. However, this pair of words is sometimes also used to describe the biological human’s gender in some circumstances, but is mostly used for plants and animals. (5) Khteuy is also word used to describe gender, according to the Buddhist Institute Dictionary, this word refers to a person who has both female and male reproductive organ. However, Cambodians has developed a connotation to this word, they use this describe a biological woman or man who put on personality and behavior of the opposite sex. But mostly this word is used to describe a man who dresses like a woman.
(2) The idea of “oddity”. As explained above, the concept of gender and sexuality is unfamiliar to Cambodians, therefore, anyone who does not fall into the traditional categories of gender and sexuality are considered the “odds”. The odds aren’t always accepted, and welcomed. According to CCHR, more than one third of transgender women are denied for a job because of their gender, forcing them to having jobs that the public and society considered dirty; more than 50% transgender women said that they become a prostitute. This data only represents transgender people, data on other sexual orientations and genders remain unknown.
(3) “In a basket of fish, if one is rotten, the rest will rot.”
Due to the above reason, Cambodians had developed stigma about the “odds,” saying they’re crazy, outrageous, and are the one involving in illegal and despicable activities like drug dealing and thievery. Some denied that, difference in sexuality and gender can’t exist. They think that the odds are staging it for fame and attention from the public. Moreover, an “odd” seems carry the reputation for all the other odds. If an “odd” does something atrocious, the society thinks that all the odds are atrocious as well, forgetting that stigma does not imply to everyone in LGBTQ+ community and dismissed the reasons behind what they do. Consequently, “odds” are generally being ostracized and abuse both physically and emotionally. Some even say that the odds should be ashamed for who they are, as well as their family, and that they deserve to be punished.
Many people leave out the matter that the odds are dying inside when their stigma tends to stay immortal.
Cambodians are known to worship and respect their past king, king Norodom Sihanouk, but maybe not with this statement, which he made more than a decade ago, “Gays and lesbians would not exist if God did not create them. As a Buddhist I must have compassion for human beings who are not like me but who torture nobody, kill nobody.”
Media1org. “បច្ចុប្បន្នភាពនៃក្រុមអ្នកស្រលាញ់ភេទដូចគ្នា-We Are the Same.” YouTube, YouTube, 21 Dec. 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=7&v=Ha6ZDpZOJ1Y.
Sengkong, Erin Handley and Bun. “Abuses Prevalent for Cambodia’s Transgender Women: Study.” Phnom Penh Post, Post Media Co Ltd 888 Building H, 8th Floor Phnom Penh Center Corner Sothearos & Sihanouk Blvd Sangkat Tonle Bassac120101 Phnom Penh Cambodia, 22 Sept. 2016, www.phnompenhpost.com/national/abuses-prevalent-cambodias-transgender-women-study.
“The Shocking Reality of Life for Transgender Women in Cambodia.” Topics, www.sbs.com.au/topics/sexuality/agenda/article/2016/11/02/shocking-reality-life-transgender-women-cambodia.
In Khmer class this year, one of our focus is poem and songwriting. In Khmer, poems have their own special rhyme structures, therefore we had to conduct a little research on Khmer poem structure and choose one that we would like to use. I wrote two poems, one using the commonly used structure, the seven syllable structure where every line of the poem has a consistent of seven-syllable. The second poem I wrote was with the ladder structure, where every line in a stanza increase by one syllable. Below is one of my poems written in Khmer and English translation underneath it.
អាសូរសំរាមតាមដងផ្លូវ គ្មានទីលំនៅ រឺ បងប្អន
I feel the sympathy for the trash on the streets,
they have no home or relatives
rather, they drift around like a raft
carrying a stench for their remaining days.
Trash can be nothing, but waste
they the ones people leave in the market,
and in public spaces of all sort
without taking any consideration before doing so.
Trash should have the right place,
where they can live in as they should
“What is the place?” please do not ask
I love would you to ask this to yourself.
In literacy class this year, we are focusing on English grammar and vocabulary. This is meant to improve our English and also getting ready for the SAT test. As part of literacy class, we learned about coming of age and write one about ourselves. Coming of age is an experience from one’s childhood that means a lot to them or changes them and them who they are. Below is my final draft of my coming of age. It is about speaking up to my family for my own thoughts.
Below is my short story.