How I Change Cambodia| The Beauty of Change


     On the busy street of London, among the lost crowd in front of the world most influential news platform, there I was, sniffling through the cold air of spring, minutes away from my first live TV interview with BBC. I was sat in between the interviewer and the founder of the Liger Leadership Academy, Trevor Gile. The automated camera started rolling as soon as the last advertisement show stopped. Under the brightest spotlight, I focused my mind on answering the questions, while mentally recalling the training I got the day before. ABC: acknowledge, bridge, and control the conversation. Bam, bam, and bam answers after answers, I finished the five minutes interview where I discuss my transforming experiences attending the Liger Leadership Academy, along with my passion for psychology and plan for the future, with the biggest smile on my face. It was done. We celebrated. I received compliments. That was it — that was what I thought at the moment.

After the video went up on social media pages, it received likes after likes, comments after comments, and shares after shares, and that was when it really hit me. This meant so much more. My family and friends saw it, anyone with access to Facebook and own a smartphone could have seen it. People watched it! They heard my message. They know my story!

It was the shortest five minutes, yet, most impactful time of my life. I was the inspiration.

I grew up in a family of five: my mother, father, and two younger sisters. Education is highly valued in my family, but, unfortunately, only the boys are the priority. Among the many female relatives that I know of, pursuing higher education was never their prime concern; they were all expected to get married and have kids. Naturally, a similar expectation was set upon me and my siblings: finish high school, find some job, then get married. In a small conservative village of Cambodia, my two sisters quickly learned the negative stereotypes of what they can and can’t do because of their gender.

The interview was an opportunity that allows me to show the parents of my capability as a woman. I’ve shown them that I am so much more than the brown color of skin, my high pitched-female voice, the flowy dress that I wore, the puffy black hair that I have, and the feminine body that I own since birth. I am able to show my sisters that their gender does not limit what they are capable of. I am able to show that as a human we all possess the ability to make a difference, and all it takes is opportunity and courage.

Anybody could have done the live interview, but I was lucky to be award with this tremendous chance: a chance to share my story. And I was also, the voice of Cambodia.

Many people learn about my country only of the tragedy and genocide that happened years ago. However, Cambodia is not the death that is caused by landmines, it is not the bloody genocide of 1968, it is absolutely not the nation of poor and traumatized people. Cambodia will be known for the young generation sending satellite to space, the cultural business that is run by 16-year-olds, artificial reefs that were implemented into the ocean by a group of 15-year-olds marine conservationists, the first ever LGBTQ submit in the entire country that was led by a passionate young Cambodian girl, and Cambodia will be known for its success stories. This is who we are. This is what I’ve shown to the world. We are the Cambodians that is going to change this planet.

Watch your back world, we are coming at you!

I used to see change as the direct actions, that is time-consuming, and requires a lot of dedication from many people. However, I have come to realize that change does not need to be direct, time-consuming, or needs a lot of human energy to make it happen. Change could be subtle, yet, impactful. A five minutes video could be equivalent to five years of impact that has the potential to change many lives. Anyone could have done it, and all it takes is an opportunity.

Khmer Literature and Cultural Festival

On the 24th of May, Liger had hosted one of the first ever Khmer Literature and Cultural Festival Day. We had an approximate of 400 participants from schools, NGOs, and private institutions in Cambodia. The festival was initiated with the aim to promote and preserve Cambodia’s culture and language among the younger generations. The festival also allowed an opportunity for students to meet with many Cambodian well-known writers, college professors, and working professionals.

A few of the activities during the festival day​ includes the panel discussion on the topics ranging from an awareness of Cambodian Culture, the evolution of the Cambodian language, Khmer, to the tips and ways to write Khmer poems and short stories, along with presentation at multiple booths, Khmer Clothing Evolution Fashion Show, improved debate and public speaking session, poem competition, writing piece competition, and traditional dance shows.


It was honored to be selected to be the moderator for a discussion on the topic of the evolution of Cambodian language along with two Khmer Literature professors from the Royal University of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. With drastic influences of English and Chinese languages in Cambodia, the way younger generations communicate has also changed immensely. One of the trends among the young people in Cambodia is to communicate with Khmer words while writing using English letters. For example; the world thank you which is written out to អរគុណ in Khmer is usually write as r-kun which still mean thank you but it is using the English letters.  

At the very end of the day, I pridefully dressed in traditional clothes and perform a traditional dance as part of the clothing ceremony.

As a Cambodian, I am proud to be able to celebrate, share, and preserve the ancient culture of my country through this spectacular festival.

Liger Khmer Model United Nations Conference – 2019

The Khmer Model United Nations conference (Khmer MUN) was hosted on the 11th and 12th of May at the Liger Leadership Academy’s campus. The conference consisted of a total of 60 participants from three schools: Liger Leadership Academy, Cambodia Children Fund, and Happy Chandara. Approximately, 50% of the participants have never had MUN experiences before and are mostly unfamiliar with MUN style debate and research. The theme of this year discussion is “participation not indifference”. The biggest inspiration behind them is to promote participation among the delegates to work together to form an agreement on the global issues that will lead to positive impacts.

Cambodia Children Fund (CCF)’s delegates
Happy Chandara’s delegates
Liger’s participants

With one and half day time, the delegates discussed and debated on topics ranging from the question of repatriation of colonial artifacts, transitioning to renewable energy, tackling food security, rights of children of incarcerated parents, improving air quality around the globe to addressing equality and legal rights for the LGBTQ community. The team has come up with seven different resolutions to all of the topics above: five of which passed with the majority votes from the committee members. All the debate from three committee started off very quiet, due to the majority of the delegates are new, however about an hour after the debate begin, many of the delegates have become inspire and passionate about the resolutions that they’ve started, the debate was on fire! The delegates continued to make speeches and ask many well thought out questions. One of our delegates have made a total of 11 speeches and asked questions 11 times!

Admin Team
Head of Admin, Secretary-General, Deputy Secretary-General (Left to right)
Press Team


Many of the delegates agreed that this conference has allowed them to explore their passion for public speaking, practice converse using a higher Khmer vocabulary, networking with more people, and understanding the role of the diplomats. Although the debate could be very stressful when discussing these sensitive topics such as the LGBTQ rights, many of our delegates believe that it was a valuable experience and something that no kids should be limited to because of their language barrier.

As the Secretary-General of this MUN conference, I am pleased to announce that the conference was a huge success. It has enabled countless opportunities for the participated students to have a more profound understanding and discussion of the world of the United Nations, the critical issues that the world is facing, and the many possible solutions. This has been a great learning experience for me and those who involved. I am hoping that Model United Nations conference in Khmer will be implemented as an annual event among the Khmer speaking schools. 


Video credit: Yanich Khin, a student at the Liger Leadership Academy. 

Photo credit: The Press Team: Sokea, Kimseng, and Yanich



I was honored to be selected as the Head Chair for a Junior General Assembly at the ISPPMUN 2018. In the committee, delegates discussed three different topics: the question of the protection of net neutrality, preserving cultures, and languages, and transition to renewable energy.

Many would expect that chairing for a junior committee with younger delegates would be easier, however, I believe that a junior assembly requires greater focus, attention, and dedication from the chair in order for the committee to run smoothly. Although I was struggling at first to create a comfortable and respectful environment in the committee, I soon figured the way and had ensured that all the delegates are benefiting from the conference.

The experience as the head chair has forced me into a leadership position where I have to be sensitive to the delegate’s need including, helping with writing resolution, providing the necessary information, as well as setting up a friendly and comfortable environment for delegates to share their point of views.

Delegates and chairs of JGA2

Taking part with MUN always allow me to expand my knowledge regarding the United Nations and understanding more of the global current event. I have met many other people my age, whom I could learn and grow from. I am very grateful that I took a chance and applied for this position. It was very challenging, yet, memorable experience.  



Retain the Voice — (2017 – 2018)

For the first ten years of my life, I lived in a confined community and was less exposed to the world-views. I know many women who gave up their education for marriage or so that their brothers could continue. But I thought, why must women have to make the sacrifice for men? I heard of many jokes about my male friend who seems “FEMINIST” — they sound insulting in my ears, but I never understand why people said them. I felt that it was wrong, but I never have the courage to speak up. Because of that, I thought that I might just be different. I was taught to not question the elders, I was held back because I felt that I was too young to have a voice. I grew up understanding that I should not voice my opinion.


Earlier this school year, I have stepped out of my comfort zone to permit myself a voice by giving a Ted Talk on Cultural Acceptance and Sharing. “Home is where the heart is” was the principle quote of my speech. I was inspired by the many refugees including Cambodian, who have left their home to other countries seeking help. Not only that those people are physically vulnerable, but they also are mentally and emotionally sensitive. Throughout the entire Ted Talk, I emphasize the bond of cultures that gives people purposes and hopes, and that is a bond that holds the communities together. I have investigated the Rohingya refugees, who are being forced to deny their culture, breaking their bonds, and is facing an enormous crisis. I finally spoke up for what I felt was right.


I have to admit, speaking in the Ted Talk and continue to be aware of the world’s issues just isn’t enough. I know that every moment that I breathe, and continue to live this comfortable life there are women who suffered silently from domestic violence and being the victim of rape and sexual harassment. Sometimes, it is just a problem where girls are told to learn to do house chores while guys do not have to do them. The kind of inequality rooted in many young people’s mind. I used to be in that same situation. Do I have to do this if I were a boy? I wish I were a boy. This thought continues to circulate in me. However, being a part of the Gender Equity Exploration has completely shifted my thought. In class, we’ve discussed a variety of gender stereotypes: why are women being seen as weak compared to men, and since when is women were ASSIGNED to the house chores and being a caretaker. I’ve learned that there are people who would listen to my story, and I have the capability to share mine. The conversations were emotional and uncomfortable, but that was what really gave me ideas to speak out and wanting other people to do the same. Not only that we’ve discussed these critical problems, but we also started a comfortable environment that allows people to discuss the same issues and share their stories through an event called Gender Summit. The Gender Summit itself was not a tangible solution, but the end of the day people have comes to many realizations in the gender perspective. Sometimes change comes with a conversation, dialogue, and questions.


Having my voice heard is what I ever wish for. Sharing my story, and allowing myself to hear others, but most importantly inspiring others to do the same was the greatest accomplishment in this school year. I might not start with the strongest voice, but I have made the first move. Therefore, I am encouraging YOU to do the same. “It’s not about finding your voice, it’s about giving yourself permission to use your voice” – Kris Carr.

YouthSpeak Forum


I am honored to take part in an event called “Youth Speak Forum” started by YOUTH for YOUTH. The workshop focuses on two of the seventeen UN Sustainable Development Goal: decent work & economic growth, and industry, innovation, and infrastructure. Throughout the entire day, we listened to different keynote speakers addressing the topic from transforming ideas into plan and action, being prepared for future job opportunities and changes in a developing world, to promoting job opportunities for women in order to reach the sustainable development goals.

At the end of the day, we also worked with other students to come up with a six-week-long project that will tackle either one of the sustainable goals above, under the theme of, innovation through education, social impact, and business. Overall, all of us find the event really interesting and great networking opportunity and very informative.


Mamie Phipps Clark

Mamie Phipps Clark was born on April 18, 1917, in Hot Spring, Arkansas. Her father was a physician and her mother was a housewife who had been actively involved with her husband’s medical practice.

At the age of seventeen, Clark graduated from Langston High School. Despite the race barrier for black students, Clark was offered various scholarships to further her education, two of which were, Fisk University in Tennessee and Howard University in Washington D.C. She chooses to attend Howard, where she major in math and minor in physic. That was when she met her husband, Kenneth Bancroft Clark who was a master student in psychology. Kenneth had persuaded Clark to pursue psychology because it is more favorable in term of employment opportunities, and would allow her to work closely with children regarding her passion. Later on, she has become the first female to a doctorate in psychology.

In her psychology master’s thesis, she had investigated the mental growth of the black children, who become aware of them self, belonging to a specific race group “The Development of Consciousness of Self in Negro Preschool Children.” Her research had become historic when it was used to support the Brown vs. Board education court case, it brought light to racial segregation in school. According to her research, children become aware of their blackness at a very early age, 4 or 5. The “race-consciousness” refers to the consciousness of self-identifying oneself based on their physical characteristics as members of the specific race group.  

Clark had started a psychological testing and service center for minority children called “The Northside.” With some financial difficulties, the Clark family had started this institution to provide psychological and educational service to the minority children and parents deal with the impact of racism and discrimination.

Along with her work at Northside, Mamie Clark was actively involving with her other community. She worked with her husband, Kenneth on the Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited project. She worked with the Board of Directors of numerous educational and philanthropic institutions.

Despite, the societal barrel of African-American women she had fought her way through many challenges and had made several great discoveries for psychology filed until today. Mamie Clark served as the Director of the Northside Center from 1946 – 1979 the year of her retirement. She died on August 11, 1983, leaving her great discovery until today.


I was selected to be one of the speakers for  TEDxISPP 2017. This year,  I have talked about the issues of Maintaining Cultural Diversity in a Globalized World,  specifically focusing the minority and refugees, around the theme of “Creating a Hopefull Future”. I was inspired by some Cambodian refugees who had returned back to their homeland after the war, some of which specifically kids, had very little understanding of their Cambodian’s culture. Therefore, I strongly feel that this is a topic that requires discussion and needed to talk about. 

Maintaining Cultural Diversity in a Globalized World

        There is a quote that states: “Home is where the heart is,” and I firmly believe this. To me, home is where I can freely and comfortably express myself. By that I mean, it is where I can express my childish self. Even though I am 15 years old, I am also a one-year-old, a ten-year-old, three-year-old, a nine-year-old, and so on. I want to be able to tell stupid jokes that sometimes do not make any sense, and talk all day about my obsessions with Harry Potter, Doraemon, Pikachu, and pick-up lines, but most importantly, home is where there is support and love for me. That’s what home means to me. Everyone defines the word home differently. So, while you are listening to my talk, I want you all to think about: “What does home mean to you as a person?” and “How would you feel if you lost it?”

         We live in a complex world with diverse people, cultures, traditions, religions and languages. Every individual somehow contributes to the changes in a society. Therefore, we should acknowledge and celebrate our variations in culture and identity. I grew up in a rural part of Cambodia with limited access to divergent world views. About five years ago, only a small percentage of the villagers had access to any modern technologies, and the idea of travel wasn’t that popular. It is a small village, so we interacted with the same group of people all the time. There wasn’t much cultural exchange happening between us, because we had so much in common already. Yet now, it is changing drastically. Today, almost everyone has smartphones and access to the internet, and are therefore more aware of the changes in their society and the world. Despite having access to modern technology and being more connected to different places, their understanding of human differences is still limited. Despite the limitations of my community, throughout my childhood, I was taught by my parents and relatives about Cambodian cultures and customs, the religion of the people, and about the minorities in my country. As I grew older, I was exposed to various people from many different backgrounds, from whom I could learn.

         About two years ago, I went to Mondulkiri, a province located in the northeast of Cambodia for a school project called Hidden Voices. We traveled to different provinces to discover old Cambodian songs, those who could still sing them, and their personal stories. As the final product, we recorded a podcast, narrating the background of different singers and songs that we discovered. We interviewed many elders and visited one of Cambodia’s minority groups, the Phnong community.

          The Phnong have lived in Mondulkiri for about 2000 years. They used to live in houses made out of bamboo, natural materials and thatch. They have their own language with the Khmer alphabet, as well as different beliefs, music, and culture. When we were there, they hosted a welcoming and good luck ceremony for us as visitors to their village with music and wine, which our teacher had to drink as a representative for all of us, as a part of their tradition. It was a really warm welcome from them. As the majority in this country, we, Khmer people, have played a huge part in influencing their lifestyle. It wasn’t my first time visiting a Phnong village, so I could see the tremendous changes in their society because of our influence over time. I noticed that more people could speak Khmer, when before, only a few Phnong men could speak Khmer. Nowadays, when Phnong children are born, they start to learn both languages: Khmer and Phnong. Furthermore, less people know how to play the traditional instruments and music, and their houses and clothing are more modern. I, along with my teammates, interviewed an old man, one of the elders in the village.

         He stated, “I never used to worry about the extinction of our culture, but when I think about it over and over again, I notice that it is fading.” These people now live in concrete or wooden houses, sing our music, and speak and learn our language. The old man could still remember what their community had been like, and had seen the changes firsthand. What about the next generation? Will they be able to interact with their amazing culture? What about refugees who become a minority in another country? Slowly but surely they begin to lose parts of their culture and become more like the majority.  Imagine yourself in their shoes. How much would you have to go through to preserve your cultural differences, while striving to assimilate to the community that you live in?

         I bet that most of you have heard of a country called Myanmar, formerly Burma. Myanmar is a country located in Southeast Asia, consisting of 100 ethnic groups; it borders India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand. This country is led by Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi. Right now, as we all sit here in this luxurious and comfortable Black Box Theatre, Rohingya people, part of a Muslim minority group, are fleeing to join the more than six hundred thousand refugees who have left Myanmar for Bangladesh since August 25th. These people were forced to leave their homes because of persecution from other ethnic groups, specifically the Myanmar troops, many of whom are Buddhist. Many lives have been taken and families have been separated. In a situation like this, what do safety, home, and culture mean to them?

         Where we love is the home — home that our feet may leave, but not our heart. We can think about culture this way: if a community is a computer, then culture is like the operating system; it’s what keeps people together and bonded. According to an article from ABC News that talked about the counselling work done with some Rohingya refugees, most of the refugees, including children, have been traumatised by the horrifying events they have experienced. The question now is: how will they, specifically children, live a normal life after being forced from their homes and everything they know.

         A Bangladeshi psychologist stated: They have seen in front of them — father and mother both slaughtered or burned.” There are literally thousands of heartbreakiong stories, but I want to share one that really stuck with me most. A pregnant woman in her mid-twenties tried to cross to Bangladesh just like the others. Sadly, before she made it to Bangladesh, she witnessed the death of her husband and relatives and the loss of her one-year-old child, and she just gave birth to her newborn. She walked for days, alone with her baby, to the safety of Bangladesh. As a mother. As a father. As a child. Seeing family members going through all of these tragic experiences. At that moment, getting away from being abused and finding safety is their only priority. To them, the words home and safety just mean seeking shelter and having enough food to eat daily. How about culture? Does it mean anything to them at all? What keeps them all together? There is no answer. Becoming a minority group in another country means facing many challenges such as exclusion from society, learning to adjust to a new place, and having one’s culture be somewhat less appreciated. Therefore, it is important to teach young about the variety of cultures in this world so that we can help to raise awareness and prevent discrimination toward minority groups, including refugees. It is our responsibility to help preserve different cultures and accept people without pressuring them to adapt to the majority norms. Yes, I understand that the world is changing, as well as the people in it. The world is developing new technologies and artificial intelligence and many other cool things that make our lives much easier.

         At the same time, we are also faced with a blending of cultures, beliefs, and different ways of living. It is vital to remember where we come from, our home and our unique culture. We live in a world with around 7.6 billion other people; we must understand what keeps a community bonded and acknowledge our differences as well as our history. Appreciate what we have before it turns into what we had!






Kampot Reader and Writer Festival

On 1-5 of November, a group of Liger students had participated at the Kampot Writers Readers Festival that circle around the theme of “Courage”. During the event, we’ve met many authors, poets, and inspirational speakers. We have participated and learned about topics such as; writing short stories using the fairy tales as an inspiration, writing poem, and stage performance, listening to the spoken word artist Kosal Khiev, and being apart of the poetry slam session where six of the Liger students performed their poems. This trip as a whole has inspired me to read more, and express my emotion and thought through writing creatively. One of my favorite experiences was when we watched the performance from Cambodia Music Buss group, at one point the Liger’s group started to dance. We also, invited and encouraged most of the people who were at the performance to dance and enjoy the music with us. This experience specifically, had made me realized that music wasn’t created for only entertainment, it was created to bring people together, despite our differences.

Below is the poem that I wrote when I was on the trip.

Scares are tattooed against my beauty.

Humiliation is engraved upon my dignity.

Abandonment is concealed underneath my merriment.

I am a one-sided window.

I heartedly rooted.

Straight and rigid that’s what I’ll be.

I circulate as a shadow to the mist.

They are there.

Masking the precious me.



I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in the 2017 ISPPMUN once again this year.  This year was my very first time to be selected to serve as a deputy chair of Human Rights Council (HRC). The delegates debated on the topics from protecting civil liberties, racial minorities to basic rights of prisoners. It was my duty as a deputy chair to write a research paper to one of the topics which I wrote about the topic of protection of racial minorities. It was my obligation to ensure that during the conference delegates are comfortable, stay on topic, and the atmosphere within the committee is safe for delegates to take risks delivering speeches and debating controversial issues. It was terrifying at first to be charing to a group of delegates who were mostly older students, however, with a help and mentoring from my kind-hearted head-chair I became very confident, and helpful to my delegates during the conference. Although I made a lot of mistakes, I believe that it was a chance for me to learn from it and to do better next time.

Credit: Samady Sek