2017/2018 Yearly Reflection

“Hi! My name is Makara, and I hate coding.” This used to be how I introduced myself to my new teachers or visitors when I was being asked to tell something about myself so that they could remember me. I could have say, “I am passionate about gender equity and women empowerment,” or “I love doodling,” or even “My favorite food is roasted chicken ” ‒ but out of all the possibilities​​​​​ ‒  I pick “I hate coding.” This phrase had embedded in my brain since the first day I enrolled in a 7-week project called Programing. Whenever I could not accomplish a petty-coding task, I would forsake and compare myself to others. Frustration, disappointment, and stress always revolved around me whenever I did not know how to do something or when I was in an uncomfortable situation. From that day on, I successfully convinced myself that coding will not be a part of my identity. This was a reflection of my personality. I chose to stay safe ‒ I chose to avoid vulnerability ‒ I chose to be dogged from taking risks.

On the first day of our Gender Equity Exploration, the glum classroom was full of tears. We emotionally and eagerly discussed about gender-based questions; those questions just popped up in our brain after one another. One of the essential questions that I have answered was “how does my family affect my personality?” At that time, I cracked up and always on the verge of tears. At that time, I was not hesitant to share: my stories, my thoughts, my experience, and especially my anger. At that time, I created a vulnerable environment for myself, while also feeling safe. As the project progressed, I was ravenous to have those kind of conversations and explore more about gender equity globally and locally. We looked at so many role models who shared how they were being impacted by who they are in the society. After being inspired, we intended to raise awareness about gender issues among every human, especially Cambodian. We came up with ideas of establishing a blog and creating a gender summit. After that, everyone was very busy as a bee due to brainstorming ideas for articles to write and organizing the summit. I was responsible for conducting interviews for the documentary. The interviewees would have to answer four questions: what is the first thing that come to your mind when I say “girl?” what is the first thing that come to your mind when I say “boy?” have you ever been restricted by your gender in any way? if so, how? in order to achieve gender equity, what need to happen? As we approached the due dates of the summit, I was expressly buckled down to finish my tasks. Finally, there were seven schools participated with over 100 students. This summit was deem as a huge success because those students have earned the courage to discuss these touchy-gender topics with their friends and family. Personally, this project has not only doused me with consciousness and endurance, but also the power to have sensitive talk with my mom, and the ability to not always be the top dog of the group.

When we started to assign tasks to the students, my learning facilitator asked, “who want to be in charge of organizing the entire event?” At first, I was dying to take this position because I knew that I am very adept at leading others. I found it difficult to trust someone else to take this job; however, I needed to allow others to learn how to be a leader. As a result, I was on the documentary team, which I had very little experience with. Sometimes, when things were getting out of hand, I became frantic and wanted to be the executive. Nevertheless, I had to acclimatize to the idea that my role was not a leader in this project. I had to face the facts that everyone required different times to grow.

Ultimately, I had to confront with my fear.

I was scared of being judged by others. Their opinions had constrained me from exploring new opportunities. However, this timidity has receded through times. Since Gender Equity Exploration, I learned to share my sorrow and discovered my new skill. During HIV workshop, I painfully talked about how my uncle died from having HIV, and how others discriminate his wife and children. In Bambujaya Exploration, we aimed to create additional activities to the government curriculum in order to make it more interesting, more engaged, and more stem-based. At first, I was doubting myself if I can be creative to come up with new activities. I felt undeserving to be apart of this project due to my rigid brain. In order to answer my uncertainty, I decided to join, and it has proved me that I am creative and that I am worthy of this opportunity. Additionally, in my Theater Performance Exploration, I was selected to play a character that was totally opposite from me. I was no longer having misgiving about other people’s judgment on my acting skill.

I confidently succeeded in taking risks ‒ and I am proud.

In contemporary Cambodia, flexibility is key; therefore, I have learned the value of versatility. There are constant changes, plights, and challenges that I need to overcome. If I do not step my feet in those problems, how can I change Cambodia? If I do not expose myself to new possibilities, how can I change myself? I believe that it is better to face the unknown, so that I can learn and strive. The outcomes are never set in stone; I can never guess the result, but what I can do is change my rigid self. I cannot guarantee that everything will turn out perfectly, but I am certain that taking risks will help me: to redefine who I am as a human and to achieve my dreams of changing Cambodia.


2016/2017 Yearly Reflection

Cambodia, Kingdom of Wow! I believe that this country is developing everyday and the hope of our younger generation has no boundary. I am raised to be a change agent and I truly agree that even small actions can affect the future of Cambodia.  It is our responsibility to shape this country because it relies on us. We don’t have to wait to be an adult to create improvement because changes do not begin with, “How old are you?”, but it actually starts with, “how good are you at witnessing the problem in your community?” However, the following up question that is the most important for all change makers is, “How will you solve it?”

It is such a privilege for me to be a Liger student. First of all, I gain more knowledge when I am in classes and also through my experience. For instance, this year I starts to take a risk in attending the Model United Nation  (MUN) and I will admit that it is quite scary for me as a new delegate. At first, I participated in the Junior Assembly in Phnom Penh, which discussed about the issue from animal rights to education to dams in Southeast Asia. On the second half of the school year, I joined another MUN in General Assembly in Vietnam, which dated on the four different topics like the question of offshore taxation and combatting food insecurity in urban area. Personally, because of this event, I have learned a lot through my research and when I was actually in the committee. For instance, I never know that the problem of offshore taxation is existing in our world. After joining this amazing opportunity, I have shared what I learned to my friends and especially my family because they didn’t even think that we face with these obstacles just like I do before engage in MUN. Everyone that I talked to seems to at least understand that our word face so many problems that we need to accomplish and perhaps they will discuss with other people. Even though that this is a small action, but at least a lot of people will understand more about the challenges that we have to overcome and maybe they will some ideas to solve it.

How do you think about women rights in Cambodia? I as a girl notice that women will feel uncomfortable to walk alone, to stay late at night, talking about our health problem and feeling, and traveling to new places. There are still violence and discrimination towards women, especially in rural areas and there is a lot of public harassment too. Moreover, some people still believe that women are weak and should always stay home to do chores and look after their children. All of these things should not happen because we should have freedom to do all the things that we want like men or boys too. When I see these problems, I promise to myself that I need somehow to help those women. At first, I learned about gender equality and I already requested my teacher for me to join the Exploration called “Gender Equity”. So, my next goal is to take real action by volunteering with organizations around Cambodia that focus on women issues. I hope that I can accomplish this because this has always been my passion.

Liger’s biggest goal is to encouraging all students to become change agents in their own country. We made some changes already like the Economy Book and Wildlife of Cambodia that got recognized by the government and now is in every secondary school in Cambodia. So, one of my Exploration is to learn from those change agents all around the world even in Cambodia. As a group, we wrote E-mail and making phone calls to request them for an interview by Skype, phone, and meeting them in Phnom Penh. One of us wrote and Email to Sheryl Sandberg and she replied back to us that she appreciated our effort, but she doesn’t have time to do it. Personally, I request the founder of Technovation (a program that inspires girls to create apps that can solve the problems in their community) and she agreed at first. However, due to her tight schedule and different time zone, we can not conduct the interview and she wanted me to send her the questions through email instead. A person that I got to ask questions is the Khmer founder of Smart Keyboard. We also filmed during the interview because our biggest intention is to share this to all Cambodians. I view this Exploration as a way to encourage all young creative Cambodians to make our country a better place and to realize that every single of them has potential to make a difference like the change agents that we interviewed.

Many junk food are flowing to Cambodia rapidly and many people seem to like it a lot. However, they do not consider a lot about the effect of those types of food on their health. For kids in rural area, they just eat them without brushing their teeth also. So, one of my my biggest accomplishment is encouraging them to change their habit through my Exploration called “Preventative Health”. My team and I went to Koh Rong (island) to teach two schools of how to brush their teeth properly and the disadvantage of having too much sugar in your body through our play that we prepared from our school. At the end, I can see that the kids do think about it and we just say to them that before they buy anything, they should think how much sugar does it contain. This really demonstrates how we change our country because I believe the power of knowledge is very powerful. They now starts to change their perspective on all of those yummy sugary snack and I hope that they will help to spread this information to make our people healthier.

“It doesn’t matter where you live, as long as you can improve your place.” This quote is always written in my heart. It is true that you don’t have to be wealthy or poor, white or black, male or female, kid or adult to be a change agent. What’s more important is that you notice the problems that need to be addressed and you take actions. For me, as I mentioned earlier my biggest concern is women’s rights and people don’t really understand the problems that we need to solve besides their own issues.Also, this year I had trips to other provinces to help to educate students about their health and interviewing real change agents in my country.  

To all young citizens across the world, I encourage you to chase your dream even though that you feel discouraged because maybe you are in bad situation. You have to remember that you can make impossible things to be possible and you will make a different!


2015/2016 Yearly Reflection

Nowadays, Cambodia is still a developing country. A lot of buildings are happening here, especially in Phnom Penh (capital city). It is very complicated to become a change agent in your own country. So, this year I have changed Cambodia because of six main reasons. First of all, the Science and Engineering Festival. I went to that event to show and also taught people about drone. My observation was that there was a majority of people that never know about drone before. It seemed like it was their first time to see and learn about it. Another reason that I have changed Cambodia this year is because of the Kingdom of WOW talent show. Basically I was not the committee in this event, but I was one of the helpers that help to run this event smoothly. This show allowed Cambodian students from all backgrounds to show their talent. Third, is about Human of Cambodia. This was one of my expertise. I went to interview Cambodian and then listen to that audios and note down all the interest parts of them to post in the blog. This Expertise can change Cambodia because more important other people will learn more about Cambodian daily life. Fourth, is about Khmer Interior Design Exploration. I and my teammates see the need of Khmer interior designers in our society. So, that was why we created this Exploration. When people came on the day that we shared what we have learned in our Exploraiton (Sharation), most people seemed to be more interested in this idea. So, I hope that in the future there will be a lot of Khmer interior designers in our country. Fifth, is about science story book that I wrote with my partner. After we wrote our book, we invited local children to come to see our demonstration about how does rock form. Finally, the biggest reasons that I have changed Cambodia is Project-based learning (PBL) Exploration. I and my team were trying to implement PBL to government schools in Cambodia. So, we went to many government schools to do projects with the students there. This project required them to go to community and interview villagers about the topic that we gave them to do. This also involved collaboration, doing experiment, and improving their interview skill rather than just sitting in class and listen to teacher all the times. These are just a few ways that I can help to change my country, but wait and see because there will be more and more in the future.

2014/2015 Yearly Reflection

Can I ask you, do you want to change your country to become better? My answer is yes. As you know, Cambodia is a developing country, so I really want to change my country to have less poverty. Even though that I can’t change immediately, but I have this process. First I needed to encourage parents to send their kids to the school. Most underprivileged families don’t know about the benefit of sending their kids to the school. They always think that they are poor and so if they send their kids to the school, their family is still poor. If they don’t have the ability to send their kids to the school, we can build the school that can provide a scholarship to them like my Liger school. The next step after their child get a lot of knowledge they can change their family habit and they can find a legal job, so that they have income to support their family. After this their family will have a better life and have priority like other people.

I’d talked about sending their children to school to my neighbor and my relative. I said that you should send your children to the school because now the society need the people that have the knowledge. Even my parents now still encourage our neighbor and our relative to send their children to the school. But some of the people still have this mindset. They still think that if they send their children to the school, their livelihood will become poorer. But some people are sending and encouraging their children to go to the school. Even though not all people send their kids to the school but a few of them do. So, that mean we are successful because some family are sending their kids to school.

As you know that our country is a developing country, so there are a lot of rubbish beside the road and at their community. I’d been going out to the community to teach the people how to reduce plastic. First of all we had one survey to ask them to know how did they use their plastic. Then we started to share with them what we had learn in class. We taught them how to reduce plastic, like they should had one eco-​​​friendly bag that they can use for many times. Most people in our community they burned their rubbish. As you know that burning the rubbish is bad for the earth like it can affect the atmosphere and it will have climate change. So, we tried to promote to them that burning the plastic is really affected the environment. Of course one way to reduce burning is using less plastic. If you had less plastic and you will burn the plastic less too.

Cambodia is a country that speaks Khmer language. So, in order to communicate with other people around the world we need to learn new language. In Liger we are teaching the kids around our community to know how to speak English. On each Friday the community students will come to our school to learn English from our students. It is really important to know English because it is the most commonly used language among foreign language speakers. Throughout the world, when people with different languages come together they commonly use English to communicate. So, when they grow up they have the job, they can use their English to communicate with the foreigner. That will bring them a lot easier than don’t know none of the English.

It is my fortunate that I am Cambodian people because I get this best opportunity to change my country to be a peaceful country and full of education. Even though Cambodia is a developing country, which mean is not the cleanest country or the best country. But I still love my country, I will take my knowledge to share the kids all around Cambodia if I can.

2013/2014 Yearly Reflection

I bet every person in every country really want to change their country. So, I really really really want to change my country to become a developed country. As you know, Cambodia is a developing country, so one way that I can help my country is by alleviating poverty. My family always asks me, how will you help our country by alleviating poverty? I say that to help alleviate poverty is not by having a lot of money and then giving it to the poor people. Basically I don’t need money to help my country, but one thing that I really need is education. I have been taking my education to teach other Khmer students, who are nearby my village. I have been teaching them about English and 3D printing (see Entrepreneurship Description).

My money!!

If one time I have 100 million dollars in my pocket, I will build many schools or organizations in Cambodia and I will give the scholarships to the smart students that are poor. Why don’t I give it to the rich, smart kids? I really want to give the scholarships to all the smart students, but the first thing that always comes to my mind is poor kids that are smart, but they don’t have the ability to learn.