MUN Trainer

It has always been my dream to share my knowledge and my passion of Model United Nations (MUN) to other students. On August 2018, I was very privileged for the opportunity to bring MUN to the second cohort of the Liger Leadership Academy.

Three of Liger MUN warriors and me had one hour and 30 minutes every week to facilitate the students. First, we planned out the structure of the class. Explaining about the protocols and process and assigning each of them with a country, we organized a mock MUN session, debating the topic of “should smartphones be used in classroom.” Although the topic was not from the UN and not a major problem in the world, the students were able to follow the protocols and the process, yielding a successful debate.

After grasping how MUN worked, the students challenged themselves to take part in an official MUN—hoping to expand their MUN experience— at iCan International School in Phnom Penh. I was responsible to guide four students, who were the delegates of Bangladesh, Iraq, Urganda, and United Kingdom in Junior General Assembly 1 (JGA1).

There were two urgent topics that were being discussed upon in JGA1: eradicating modern forms of slavery and feeding the growing billions. Discussing about slavery with students who were 10-12 years old was very challenging for me due to the sensitivity of the topic. I was quite uncomfortable at first when familiarizing them with the topic; however, after I told them that this discussion will require their maturity and openness, they were able to understand more about the complexity of the topic.

Before those four delegates went to that iCanMUN, they were required to research, write an opening speech, and complete a draft resolution paper. I shared many techniques to research those two topics as well as helped to edit their opening speeches and resolution papers.

Walking with confidence and nervousness as it was their first official MUN, the students were ready to debate and collaborate. I was so honored to be able to watch how their knowledge and experiences unfolded in their committee. I hope that I will be able to share my passion in the future not just with younger people but with everyone else.


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.


The Fingers that Fix Nitrogens

We often think that plant roots absorb water, but these giant-mucousy fingers actually pull in airborne nitrogen.

Professor and plant scientist Alan Bennett ‒ a member of the Plant Sciences Department at University of California, Davis ‒ led a team of researchers to find out the reasons why the aerial roots of Sierra Mixe corn behaves that way. The result lies in the thick and glistening mucous surround the roots.

After completing three phases of testing and 10 years of working on the project, the team was able to conclude that there are actually tiny residents inside the mucus. For phase 1, the team utilized a “modern DNA-sequencing” method to reveal that those microscopic creatures are indeed microbes from nitrogen-fixing family. Whereas for phase 2, the mucus were chemically analyzed, and it turned out that the mucus provides safety shelter to the microbes and protects them from having contact with the oxygen. Finally, using five separated tests, the team could say that the nitrogen converted by the microbes and provided with “30% to 80% of plant’s need” has transformed itself in order for the corns to absorb and use for the entire plant.

There are multi-faceted applications that we can use from this finding. One way is to transplant the mucus. Imagine if other plants contain the same mucus, then farming becomes more sustainable without constantly buying fertilizers. Additionally, crossbreeding the Sierra Mixe corn with conventional corn is possible. Therefore, these two possibilities may lead to further genetic engineering. Although the mucousy corn takes at least eight months to mature, if we can intermix both plant genese, there will be less adverse effects on the environment.   

There are many disadvantages and hazardous effects that can be caused by synthetic fertilizer. As fertilizer is a double-edge sword, it can affect people’s health while also can wash off into the rivers, which lead to immense algae bloom causing organisms to die because of lacks of oxygen. Furthermore, manufacturing fertilizers is an energy-intensive industry. Therefore, nitrogen-fixation ‒a process of converting nitrogen into organic compound‒ is an alternative way to solve these problems due to its efficiency and sustainability. For instance, this technique of nitrogen-fixation will fit best in areas where soils are depleted of nitrogen or where fertilizer is not accessible or affordable.

Although, there are clear advantages of nitrogen fixation in the corn, there are still uncertainty regarding microbes and gene of the corn: name and number of species of the microbes, possible drawbacks of nitrogen-fixation gene, and type of gene that enable aerial roots to contain mucous and microbes. Despite these ambiguity, nitrogen-fixation modus operandi still hold great value.

Global consumption of fertilizers, especially nitrogen fertilizers, has rapidly grown according to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). In the new FAO report entitled “World fertilizer trends and outlook to 2018” states that the usage of fertilizer will increase by “1.8 percent through 2018”‒ a 25-percent growth from 2008. As clearly shown, just over one decade, the augmentation of the fertilizer has grown nearly a quarter. Then, what would happen in the next 10 years, 7 years, or even 4 years?

Although nitrogen made up 78% of atmosphere, however, only small percent of crops can fix those excess nitrogen. Therefore, as the world progress, we need to be able to have more plants that have the ability to fix nitrogen like those Sierra Mixe corns. If those plants can grow at a commercial rate, it may further lead to eradicating food insecurity. This opens door to many opportunities for people to be creative, to find a way to carry out the plan, and to change the world!


Works Cited

“Can We Grow One of the World’s Largest Food Crops Without Fertilizer?” UC Davis, 1 Oct. 2018,

Daley, Jason. “The Corn of the Future Is Hundreds of Years Old and Makes Its Own Mucus.”, Smithsonian Institution, 10 Aug. 2018,

“Fertilizer Use to Surpass 200 Million Tonnes in 2018.” International Rice Commission Newsletter Vol. 48, FAO of the UN,

“Fertilizer Use to Surpass 200 Million Tonnes in 2018.” International Rice Commission Newsletter Vol. 48, FAO of the UN,

Yong, Ed. “The Wonder Plant That Could Slash Fertilizer Use.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 10 Aug. 2018,

How can Wonder Woman’s bracelets deflect bullets?

Wonder Woman has many superpowers: reflexes, superhuman strength, superhuman speed, and durability. Reflexes refers to the ability to react quickly, superhuman strength is when you are physically stronger than the maximum strength that humans and animals can achieve, superhuman speed is about the ability to move faster that what is possible in our real world, and durability is the ability of be able to use for a long time without getting damaged. Examining the movie and the comics, the durability of Wonder Woman’s unbreakable bracelets have the ability to deflect bullets. This depends on how quickly she reacts to those bullets, and how those bracelets ensure that not a lot of momentum gets passed to Wonder Woman.

Since momentum is always conserved, the total momentum of the bullet and Wonder Woman before the collision must be equivalent to the total momentum of them after the collision. As the bullet hits her, small portion of bullet’s velocity gets transferred to her, which  cause her to move back just a little bit. Then, the bullet will bounce off of her bracelet at smaller velocity than its initial velocity because its final velocity has to combined with Wonder Woman’s velocity to be equal to their total momentum before the crash. Even though Wonder Woman receives small recoil velocity, we can not really see her bounce off like the bullet because that velocity is very tiny.

The explanation of the law of conservation of momentum does make sense, and it is realistic. To make momentum conserved, the bullet has to bounce back with smaller velocity, and Woman Woman will get some velocity from the bullet to move back as well. However, superhuman speed, superhuman strength, reflexes, and durability are seemed as impossible to achieve in our real world. Are there any human that can move faster or physically stronger than the maximum strength and speed that any organism in our planet can do? Additionally, we have not found any material that can used to create objects that resist damage. Also, Wonder Woman’s reaction time has to be small in order to deflect a bullet. There was a scene in the movie that the shooter is 5 meter away from her and that means her reaction time is approximately .01 second, which is incredibly small for our humans to have.  In order to make “reflexes” superpower more physically realistic, the movies and the comics should let the shooter fires the gun from further distance. By doing this, it allows Wonder Woman to have greater reaction time to those bullets.


Works Cited

Allain, Rhett. “The Physics of Bullets Vs. Wonder Woman’s Bracelets.” Wired, Conde Nast, 8 June 2017,

Gemmill, Allie. “Wonder Woman’s Got Some Serious Superpowers.” Bustle, Bustle, 20 Mar. 2018,

Nerdist. “The Secret of Wonder Woman’s Bullet Blocking! (Because Science w/ Kyle Hill).” YouTube, YouTube, 23 Nov. 2017,


Photo Source:

Girls in Science and Technology Fair

March 8 is an International Women’s Day, and it is when we “celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievement of women.”  On this day, I attended an event that was organised by an organization called Cambodian Children Fund. There were so many incredible female speakers that confidently shared their accomplishments, projects, and their pride. Some girls talked about their app when they enrolled in Technovation, which is a global program that encourages girls to participate to create application to solve their country’s plight. Additionally, a few girls from Liger presented their marine conservation project. Whereas some of the Cambodian Children Fund girls talked about their robot and chemical reaction. One of my most memorable stories was when a 90 year-old lady told us that she was forbidden by her father from going to school. That was why she tried to encourage her daughter to go to school and be educated. Also, she mentioned that now she is learning how to code with the help from the software team. Listening to all of these amazing presentations, varied from projects to achievement, made me think of how many women suffer from violent, lacks of equality and equity, racism, and ignorance. Yes, we are celebrating their accomplishments, but we should not ignore the pain that they have to go through and those who are working tirelessly to combat the problems that women face in their daily life.

Women in STEM- Florence Bascom

We often know more about male scientists than female scientists. For example, for physic scientists, the first one that comes to our mind is probably Albert Einstein or Isaac Newton. When people are being asked to name a female scientist, almost everybody will say Marie Curie.  However, there are many more female scientists that have done amazing work for our world, but not many people know about them. Below is the first American geologist, and you will find out how she struggled to achieve her goal because of her gender. 

“I have always claimed there was no merit in being the only one of a kind… I have considered pride in the fact that some of the best work done in geology today be women, ranking with that done by men, has been done by my students…”

Name: Florence Bascom

Occupation: Geologist and Educator

Born: July 14, 1862

Died: June 18, 1945


Florence Bascom was born on July 14, 1862 in Williamstown, Massachusetts, United States. Her father, John Bascom, was initially a professor at Williams College and in 1874, he became the president of University of Wisconsin. Her mother, Emma Curtiss Bascom was a women’s rights activist involving in the suffrage movement. One interesting fact is that one year after her father was employed, the university began accepting women. Since both of her parents were teachers and supporters of women’s rights, she was encouraged to pursue education at a very young age.


In 1877, she enrolled in the University of Wisconsin and in 1882, she completed a Bachelor’s degrees in Arts and Letters and Science. Later on in 1887, she was determined to continue getting a Master’s degree in Science. With courage, she kept studying until 1893, when she was the first woman ever to receive PhD at Johns Hopkins University and second woman worldwide that earned PhD in geology.


This scientist was considered to be the first American woman geologist. She was also the first woman ever to be hired by United States Geological Survey agency. After receiving a PhD in 1893, she began her career as a teacher at Ohio State University and taught there until 1895. Then, she moved to Bryn Mawr College, where she founded the university geology department. She educated other women in field of geology; that was why after establishing the department, it resulted in “more women geologist in early 20th century than any other U.S. institution, ” stated American Association of University Women (AAUW.)


During her years as geologist and research scientist, she became known for her work of crystallography and petrography, which is a study of composition, origins, properties, and classification of rock and crystal. She has helped us to understand mountain-building processes and the geology of the Appalachian Piedmont Mountains. Additionally, she was well-known for her work on Mid-Atlantic Piedmont as well as US. Geological Survey Folios on Philadelphia (1909), Trenton (1909), Elkton-Wilmington (1920), Quakertown-Doylestown (1931), Honeybrook-Phoenixville (1938), and some 40 scientific articles on genetic petrographic, geomorphology, and gravels.


As an educator and geological survey scientist, she left our generation with a legacy of powerful knowledge about our world. Despite her achievements, she also suffered from gender inequality, especially when she was studying for her PhD in a patriarchal world. During her classes, she had to sit behind a screen because she might “disturb” the male students from learning. Additionally,  she was hardly permitted to use the library, gymnasium, and was forbidden from classrooms that were full of men. Although, she had to fight back against these stereotypes, she was in the top 100 leading geologist in United States until her death in 1945.

Works Cited

Aldoleopoldnaturecenter. “Florence Bascom.” Featured Scientists, 23 Aug. 2016,

Clary, R. M., and J. H. Wandersee. “Great Expectations: Florence Bascom (1842–1945) and the Education of Early US Women Geologists.” Geological Society, London, Special Publications, Geological Society of London, 1 Jan. 2007,

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Florence Bascom.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 24 Apr. 2009,

Photo Source:

One Billion Rising

On 11th of February, I attended an event called “One Billion Rising” at Chenla Theater. One Billion Rising is a global campaign that aims to end violence against women. According to World Health Organization, 1 in 3 women has experienced violence and abuse in their life, and it is not a surprise that Cambodian women are still suffered from exploitation and discrimination: rape and domestic violence.

It was my honor to participate in this gathering and to know that this campaign exists in Cambodia. At the event, I saw two performances; one of them is about an injured woman that got raped by her partner, and the other one is about an abused woman that feared to talk about her experience and seek help. At the end, we danced to the song named “Break the Chain.” It was my first time to dance in front of strangers, but it was worth it because I want to show that we support this movement and that we have to collaborate to “break the chain” that constrains us, women.

Link to a recap of Cambodian One Billion Rising 2018:



Taboos in Tattoos

Below is my article that I did for my literacy class as we started to learn about gender issues across the world and especially in Cambodia.


Taboos in Tattoos 

“Why?” “Why?” “Why?” A question that always formulates in Cambodian minds when they see a tattooed Cambodian woman. Some people view it as art, while others strongly condemn this practice against her.

In our culture, tattooed Cambodian women are “not common as wearing jewelry.” There are so many perspectives and assumptions of her before they​ even interact with each other.

The majority of Cambodians have developed countless taboos when she embroiders her skin with permanent ink. They label her as a “bad girl,” who may be involved in the sex industry or using drugs. Additionally, this stigma revolves around the idea that she is uneducated and does not obey her parents. They refer to her as:

  • promiscuous
  • gangster
  • rude
  • over the top
  • too stylish
  • sassy
  • brainwashed

She does not respect our Khmer culture,” said Sokha Nen, a Khmer Learning Facilitator at the Liger Leadership Academy, thinking about when he first sees any tattooed Khmer woman. He went on explaining that we have a code of conduct called “Chbab Srey,” which are the Rules for Women that encompass attitudes and behaviors that she should follow. It is expected that she should be polite and gentle. That is why most of our elders believe that it is necessary for girls to be beautiful rather than displaying her strength and aggressiveness like boys.

“Why does she do like that? It is supposed to be only for men,” described Sythong Run, a Liger Leadership Academy student, explaining the mindset of our people. This is where we urge her to embrace her beauty rather than her strength, since tattoos can be seen as a depiction of toughness.

Sokha also explained how tattoos were used in our history. During the war period, many soldiers and police got tattooed with animals and magic tattoos as protection. They believed that it has the magic to shield themselves from gun bullets and enemies. Additionally, they felt more powerful because their tattoos gave them more strength. Even now, there are still so many tattooed soldiers and boxers. “It made a huge difference. It increased the number of victories and reduced the number of defeats,” claimed Mr Eh, a Cambodian National Heavyweight Champion that got interviewed by the Independent.

The society that we live in is less likely to denigrate tattooed men because they can show off their masculinity while she has to conceal her robustness and rather present herself with tranquility and tenderness. Tattooed men are less likely to be judged than her and get less thorny stares from other people than her. Sokha mentioned that it is the man’s nature to get tattooed. The society opens more path for them and are more open-minded if they do anything wrong. Whereas she, “anything that she does is always wrong.”

She looks terrible and she only wants to show off her beauty and sexiness,” said a 43-year-old Tet Channary when she first sees her.

“What the heck? Why does she get tattooed, when the society hates her?” said a 14-year-old Samnang Nuon when he first sees her.

“[She is] aggressive, weird, and not cute” this is how a 15-year-old girl, Phosreyneang Loeurng that has never seen a tattooed Cambodian woman describe her.

“Girls who go out at night,” said Sokha when he first sees her.

“They are slut [that will cheat on their husband and then leave him],” this is how Rathana Oek’s, 23 years old, mom and relatives describe her.

“[She is] brave,” said Sythong Run when she first sees her.

“[She is] cool,” stated Venghour Than, 14 years old, when he first sees her.

Tattoos don’t mean she wants to be sexy.

Tattoos don’t mean she wants to mimic a man.

Tattoos don’t mean she wants to show off.

Tattoos don’t mean she wants to be a slut.

Unfortunately, she lives in a society that constrains her from making her own decision. Rathana Oek explained that her tattooed niece needs to “put her hair down to hide her tattoos on the neck when she goes home.” She also mentioned that a tattooed woman can feel ashamed when she walks in front of the elders because she knows she has upsets them. Besides, in our culture, the groom’s parents are required to ask the hand of the bride from her parents. However, the groom parents will forbid their son from marrying her and vow to not even talk to her parents because all she has done, is getting tattooed.

She gets tattooed because of her love for art. She gets tattooed because she wants to release her anger. She gets tattooed because to remember the best and worst memories. She gets tattooed because she is not a robot that follows all the detailed code. She gets tattooed so that she can express her individuality. Most importantly, she gets tattooed because she does not need to try to fit in the society, and instead she lets the society fits her.

Photo Source:




My Body Fills with Guts

Happy Halloween! So, as a part of our literacy class, we decided to write a creepy, Halloween story with less than one hour. But, there were some guidelines to how we created our story.  In my table, there were seven students, so I started off my story and then after a few minutes, we rotated our paper to the next person on our right side for them to continue our scary story. At last, I got to conclude my own story.

Please enjoy listening to my story below, which is about a journey of a pumpkin.

The Halloween pumpkin turns into a repulsive monster with dancing flames in its eyes, and pumpkin guts flowing out from its mouth. Suddenly, [……..]

AP Statistics

Currently, I am taking an AP (Advanced Placement) Statistics course, which is a college level math. With this being said, I have to work a lot harder than the previous year because there are a lot of new contents to absorb in. My class uses a text book as the main resource to help us and there are 17 chapters to get through before we do the test in May. Additionally, we have other resources to guide us to success such as a test book and online worksheets. Moreover, we use an advance calculator TI-83, which has a lot of functions in it.  Normally, I seek out help from my learning facilitator when I don’t understand the concept or my answer to the question is wrong.

Personally, even though that this AP class is very difficult, I still think that it is very worthwhile for me to challenge myself to get to another level. Being able to analysis the data and graphs is very important because sometimes, people can manipulate us with their data and graphs.