Foldscope, a Life-changing Invention of Microscope & bringing it to Cambodian Students.

“Foldscope Cambodia aims to empower socio-economically disadvantaged students by providing more accessibility to the microscopic world so that they realize and aware of their potential to create sustainable impacts in the community.”

When you are sitting in a biology lesson in school, have you ever wondered what the cells would look like because your school lacks thousands of dollars? 

Have you ever gotten sick because of the water you drink because you are unaware of just how much monstrous bacteria there are in that little cup of water?

I guess if you are living in a city and study in a modern school, you haven’t experienced these situations; but many people in rural areas face these problems every single day. 

The lack of scientific equipment such as microscopes limits experimentation, realistic visualizations, engagement, and understanding for the students. Therefore, the students have no inspiration for exploring. This ultimately drives students out of the passionate-zone when it comes to science and biology, leaving them disinterested. 

But today, there is a mindblowing tool called Foldscope which is the light for those students who need a cheap microscopic tool. 

Foldscope Viewing: Directly with your eyes - YouTube
Photo by Foldscope Instruments Youtube Channel

Foldscope is extremely affordable (only 1 dollar to make!), portable and durable. This mini-paper-microscope was invented by Stanford Professor and a Ph.D. student: Many Prakash and Jim Cybulski. 

Foldscope has a magnification of 140x which enables students and explorers to enter a whole new world of microorganisms that they had never even imagined about before. This revolutionary tool has been inspiring more passion for biology and encouraging significant scientific curiosity and exploration in all corners of the globe, especially impoverished and underprivileged communities. 

That is the reason why Cambodia is the perfect place to implement Foldscope, given our lack of technical supplies in standard education systems. Cambodia is still growing in many sectors, especially in education which is a driving sector of our nation’s future. While trying to improve our education system, many people overlook the importance of science. Many students lose interest in this fascination subject day by day because they do not have a chance to get out of the imaginary textbooks and to actually explore the real mind-blowing world of science. 

With the mission to bring back the passion towards science exploration and biology, I am honored to be a part of the Foldscope Cambodia Project which put our best into crafting an engaging and effective workshop to implement Foldscope in different government schools. 

In order to do so, we have created several Foldscope tutorial videos including What is Foldscope, How to assemble and How to prepare sample slides. 

After hours of hard work, we were excited to finally bring our workshop to two government schools in Kompong Thom with the help of the Youthstar organization. 

These two workshops were so impacting to me and other members of the projects just as much as it was to the young students. 

Upon our arrival, many students gathered with curiosity to wait for us. After we introduced ourselves and the project, we could see the fascination in their eyes, and that made me really happy. The workshop continues in smaller groups with a Foldscope Cambodia member as a facilitator.

During the Workshop when students are divided into teams and guided by one Liger Student as a facilitator

This experience that put me in the middle of a group of young students waiting for me to guide, assist, and show them was a new experience. It was completely outside of my comfort zone, which is great. Although I was nervous, excitement precedes. 

While teaching the technical skills of assembling the microscope, preparing the slides, and other scientific knowledge, I tried to encourage soft skills team-work, collaboration, communication as well. I made sure to give a chance to quieter students to speak and give the task to someone who is not as active. After a while, the students understood both the technical concepts as well as the soft skills as well. They helped each other with all of the tasks and were ready to explore with the tiny microscope which they assembled by themselves for the first time! All of them ran out of the classroom with the sample slides in hands and scattered out to scavenger-hunt the samples. A few minutes later, they arrived back with a smile and impressive samples in their hands. Some brought dirty water and some brought all kinds of insects and parts of plants. 

After hunting down these samples, it was time to reveal the secret of these samples. The reaction from the students to the sight of what was under the lense of Foldscope the greatest part.

A student in a primary school in Kompong Thom curiously exploring the view under Foldscope.

They were so fascinated and curious that they couldn’t stop questioning. Not only the students but the teachers in the school were even more surprised by the view inside Foldscope. 

I remembered a child examining an ant she found inside Foldscope and said loudly that it was so big. 

At the end of the workshop, we gathered everyone together for the reflection and conclusion. We asked representatives from each team to present their findings, reactions, thoughts, questions, and future plans after the workshop. That was the most memorable part where we could hear from those students the impact we made. All of them loved using Foldscope to explore the simple everyday nature around them like insects and plants. Furthermore, they asked thought-provoking questions that proved to us the impact Foldscope can make. 

Finally, we congratulate the students for their outstanding performance and expressed our gratitude to the schools by donating 2 sets of Foldscope kits and other educational books as a resource for these curious and bright young kids. 

Liger Students giving the school director two sets of Foldscope and books as a token of appreciation.

Although we met a lot of challenges during implementing the workshop, the result was so beyond-expectation that we would love to see this project grow even more. 

After the Foldscope Cambodia Project, I truly believe that the innovation industry should try to focus more on helping those in need and not just create technology for already-advanced communities.  

As a member, I am so grateful to see curiosity and the will to explore science from those young and underprivileged students and believe we should do more towards helping them to continue learning and exploring. 

What the Classic Novel “Animal Farm” teaches humanity about UTOPIA

Have you ever dreamt of a perfect world without hunger, pain, inequalities, poverty, diseases, pollution, and all of the other critical problems? 

If yes, you are not alone. I always have been dreaming about that so-called “Utopia” where the greatest dreams of humanity are achieved. However, that perfect world turns out to be an evil illusion that lures revolutionaries and great political leaders to establish a society that enslaves their very own citizens in the set of beliefs and ideologies that they believe would create the ultimate perfect society. 

This is the reason why many people believe that Utopia is an ideal that is an inherent/ a natural contradiction. 

Every reward comes with a price. If you want to create that perfect world, what are you willing to sacrifice? And when you put the Utopia and its cost on a scale, which one is heavier? Then, would you still think Utopia is the best world possible? 

In Animal Farm, the classic political allegory written by the famous British author, George Orwell, this idea of political Utopia is being deliberated through a simple satire of an animal group. By using symbolism, George Orwell shows the thought-provoking consequences of political revolutions and totalitarianism.   

Animal Farm” & the Evolution of the Dust Jacket — Studiolo secondari

Animal Farm mainly represents the history of the Russian Revolution, but it also serves as a reminder of human nature’s tyranny and hypocrisy. Through his stories, Orwell condemned how revolutionaries usually turn out to be inferior to those they overthrew and turn out to be hypocrites who practice the very ideologies the revolutions oppose in the first place. 

Given its genre as a political allegory, a strong/an influential use of symbolism can be seen throughout this novel. 

Character Symbolism: 

First of all, the characters symbolize the leaders of the Russian Revolution including Joseph Stalin (represented by Napoleon), Leon Trotsky (represented by Snowball) and  the visionaries who inspire the ideologies of communism which promise to bring equality and justice to the people, Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin (represented by Old Major), and the working people of Russia (represented by other animals on the farm). 

Plot Symbolism: 

Many of the plots also represent the events that took place in the real revolution. For example, in Chapter 4, how the other neighboring farms, which are known to symbolize the European countries, are frightened of the Revolution of the Animal Farm. This is known to be the “Red Terror” that took place soon after the Russian Revolution. Other plots include the expulsion of Snowball, which resembles the Assassination of Leon Trotsky by Joseph Stalin, represented by Napoleon, in a ruthless machination to seize power. 

Other General Symbolism: 

All are equal, but some are more equal then others.

The revolution wanted to abolish any form of inequality and sought to modernize its society with a unifying force of the population. However, these symbols in the story criticize this very core ideology of most revolutionists. 

Take the windmill for example; its literal purpose is to bring a more modern power source that will modernize the farm. It promises a better life, with hot water, endless electricity, fewer work hours and more benefits to the animals.

red and gray windmill on green grass field during daytime
Photo by Kai Dahms on Unsplash

However, if we look into its symbolism, the windmill represents an impossible dream of utopia which is impossible to achieve and comes with a greater cost than the ultimate result. As the animals work so hard like slaves and their lives are getting more painful to build the windmill, it has repeatedly fallen, just like their dreams of a better world. Not only has it fallen, but eventually workers, like Boxer, who are too blind to see their sacrifices for such an impossible dream lost their lives working too hard. 

Morals of the Story: 

This tragic story of Animal Farm tells the dystopian history of many revolutions we have seen. It should guide us away from those dark paths we have chosen in the past and walk more towards what will take us to a compromised greater good of society. 

Beware of the choices you make, and educate yourself of the facts to avoid falling into traps. As seen in the story, the people who are most vulnerable to manipulation are those who are uneducated and forget their very own history. Distinguish what are facts and what is propaganda. 

Most important of all, humanity must value individuality, identity and encourage the freedom of speech from everyone. We must speak and listen. No one should be suppressed of their thoughts and no one should have their fundamental human rights taken away. 

If we want a utopia, it is only possible if we define that world by ourselves and if we value other people’s definitions as well. 

Resource: Somers, Jeffrey. “‘Animal Farm’ Overview.” ThoughtCo, Feb. 11, 2020, thoughtco.com/animal-farm-study-guide-4588320.

On the 6th and 7th of February 2020, Liger Leadership Academy held a marvelous event which was the Khmer Model United Nation Conference. The vision was to empower Cambodian Formal Language Use. In addition to that, the event was a great example of collaboration between youths to create suitable solutions to the issues our world face today. 

The conference was divided into 5 different committees  consisting of 4 general assemblies and one committee of the security council. In each conference, there were two resolutions for the delegates of different nations to debate upon the proper solution. 

I attended the conference as the Delegate of the United States in the general assembly 3 which debated upon “The Elimination of Cybercrimes in Social Media. ” and “The Problems of Establishing the One Belt One Road Initiative”.  

To prepare for this conference, I finished two resolutions for the two topics which focused on creating sustainable and equal solutions for all countries in the committee. 

The main challenge for me in this Model United Nation experience was spending time to research, synthesize and analyse different data to fully understand all of the viewpoints towards a certain problem. For example, The Belt and Road Initiative established by president Xi-JinPing in 2013 was a topic which needs a deep research in order for us to understand all of the different political viewpoints. 

Overall, the conference was a really fruitful and collaborative event, empowering individuals to speak up through the perspective of a leader. This really enhance our public speaking, political understanding and international relation skills as high-school students with no experience in these fields at all. 

It was a huge success, when everyone in the conference was given a voice as a youth. Many thoughtful questions were raised, great enough that the real leaders involving the topics should’ve been there and listened. 

My dream is to see this Model United Nation Conference being organized in more schools, especially in government schools. 

Although we are young at age, together, our voices can amplify huge meaningful changes to the world around us. 

 

2019 Annual Youth Talk | Climate Crisis

With a number of youths greater than ever before, our country’s future lies in their hands; and I am proud to be a youth in this generation. I believe that our new perspective towards world issues, our creativity, innovations, ideas, arts, speeches and the energy we give is a great force towards tackling main global issues. Therefore, amplifying the voice of youths is the key to unlocking inspirations and solutions for the future of our generations. 

On the night of December, 21st, 2019, The Annual Youth Talk under the theme of “Creating a Spark”  which focuses on transforming the ways young people “Play, Learn, Build and Share” was held in the Neeson Cripps Academy campus. This great event gave a great voice to youth speakers from 9th to 12th grades to share our experiences, ideas and inspirations to our community. The night rocked with overwhelming energy and motivations from each unique speakers.

Me and Two other speakers from Liger Leadership Academy. Leza (to my left) was talking about how adolescence brains work and adolescence mood. Votey (to my right) was talking about Gender Equity in Cambodia.

Most of the topics were about self-improvement including how to get away from your comfort zones, how to better use technology to learn, and problems in society including gender equality. However, my topic was about “Climate Crisis” which sets a different mood in the audience because it wasn’t about a positive inspiration but rather a negative impact and fate we have caused to the planet.

Here is the story behind why I am so passionate about the Climate Crisis and chose to talk about it: 

All of the speakers at the Annual Youth Talk night

I was introduced to the severity condition of the Earth during the global climate strike day which my school participated in many ways for that day: we didn’t use electricity, we set a zero food waste goal and we all discussed about the topics and made personal pledges. 

After that day, I began researching more and more about this crisis, read many articles, looked at many graphs and facts from NASA and other scientists and looked at anything I can find. 

Later on, I came across a very inspirational TEDxYouth talk about the Climate Crisis under the title of “Why you should become a climate activist” by Luisa Neubauer which immediately stirred up my passion and when I decided to be a Cambodian Climate Activist, too. 

during my presentation on the Climate Crisis

At the Annual Youth Talk, I shared the sciences behind this Crisis, the great environmental effects and the massive extinction that we are going through, and especially how we as earthlings can do to help. 

It was an honor to meet Mr.Scott Neeson who is the founder and operative director of the NCA.

I learned a lot from other speakers and from preparing for this event, and I hope the impact will stay with the audience for a long time.

Sharing My Life-Changing Outdoor Experience

My smile when I got to talk to new people

On the 22nd of November, 2019, I had one of my greatest sharation (presentation event) ever in Liger which I presented about the impact that Outdoor Leadership Program brings to Cambodian youths and to me. The most joyful part was meeting many older students, seeing their smiles, and hearing that they were inspired by the project I was presenting.

Presenting to Inspiring and Supportive teachers from India

Besides the student, I coincidentally met an outdoor trainer which I easily made connections with due to our experience and perspective in the outdoor field. He shared his outdoor experiences in many beautiful landscapes in different countries he went to. His lessons learned from his trekking leadership with many participants he lead helps our program to be better. In addition, I was able to inspire an IT that only works with technology and entrepreneurship to start going outdoors, and take some moments to change the perspectives from technology to nature. 

Sharing my stories and experiences

 “Do you think Humanity is being consumed by technology?”, “What do you think about how our nature is being threatened?” and “Do you think humans are being disconnected from their true homes?” These are the questions I asked audiences to hear from their perspective and get them to open up. I was amazed to see so many great responses and discussions out of the several questions we asked them. 

Asking students questions and challenge them to think

Then, I started telling them the journey of our project:

“It starts from the great success and impact we saw from Liger students, and we thought: Why don’t we begin to spread this success and experience to other students? In my last 14 weeks, I worked in this project that aims to bring the wonderful and life-changing outdoor experiences to students. We carried out two workshops; one in Kampong Cham Province and another one in Happy Chandara which is an all girl school. It was a perfect opportunity for us to empower those women who always fight through this stereotypical society.

My group of female participants in Happy Chandara Workshop which we introduced a new perspective of leadership to
The Whole Excited Crew!

I am sure they are familiar with the concept of “Girls are housewives and indoor workers rather than explorers in the outdoors.” We wanted to fight that stigma together by introducing these girls to our program. After the workshop, they were all enthusiastic to go to the trekking right away. Their smiles, responses to our questions, discussions with each other and especially their spread of ideas with their peers proved our project was making real impacts. We watched them have fun, learn and grow together in just an afternoon of our pre-workshop. I can’t imagine what change it can bring to them after the whole program.” 

“I want to have the workshop and go out trekking, too!” One of the girls from GreenLand said full of energy. I replied telling her that we are going to collaborate with her school, too. She was happy, and I was even more excited to work with them already. I continued with the stories from my most life changing outdoor trip ever that I had just a few days earlier: 

“Wow, I do not know where to begin this great adventure story of mine. It was my absolute most challenging and most outside-of-my-comfort-zone experience which I discovered the true strength of teamwork and the power of determination.

My Girl Team!
The Start of the Adventurous Journey

It leads me to overcoming my fears, walking through obstacles and fighting through the hardest challenges, taking real risks and responsibilities and especially to think and see beyond. It proved the saying: Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. I can tell you it’s most true when it comes to outdoor.

The great exhaustion, 

the short breaths and pounding hearts, 

the muscle ache, ankle twist, blisters, blood, sweat and tears,

were the only light to self-improvement and growth. 

It leads us to the greatest sceneries, 

Of mountains and valleys,

Of singing birds in their paradise, 

Of  wild animals living in their true homes,

Of families of bees, that chase and stinks us,

Of gnarly bushes of trees that reach out to us,

As we trek, sang, and explore,

Discovering new wonders as we go. ” 

Outdoor Leadership is not just a typical trip; rather a personal experience, an exploration, a discovery that will forever capture our fascination in the deepest part of your soul.

Storytelling | A Vigorous Boy Who Plays

In our storytelling expertise class, we learn how to write a meaningful profile of our friends. My partner was Panharoth, a football player and sports enthusiast. I interviewed him to get him open up about his life, childhood and family,  his passion with football and future goals. Storytelling is not just about telling the stories that we heard, but it is about how can we get deep stories from the people we are writing about. I learned how to use interviewing techniques that can help me, as a writer, connect to Panharoth and get all of his stories for the profile I am writing for him. After getting the stories, I worked on the profile by crafting it into a powerful flow that the reader can easily understand and take away from. Here is the final profile of Panharoth: 

The Vigorous Boy Who Plays Hard

October 2019

“Sports is about making Friendship, not Enemy”

Sopanharoth said, with a wide smile, radiating joy and passion when talking about one of his main inspirations in life. 

On a September morning, Panharoth excitedly shared his experiences and stories about sports, from his childhood until now. As I sat down and began to talk about his experience in sports, enthusiasm and energy from him already proved his great passion for sports and connecting with new people. A sudden rush of energy ran through me seeing him so excited. As I asked him a few questions, his stories began to unfold.

Childhood and the Spark for Sport

We began to talk about his childhood. Panharoth looked up to the ceiling, mind wandering into the good old memories, trying to recall all the childish stories. 

Panharoth did not change much from his childhood. His love for football and outdoor activities arose then, even if he did not notice it, and it only grows with him as he gets older. 

Before sports brought him to his current journey, Panharoth was a little boy who liked to play with toys everyday with his younger brother. As a kid with many friends, he also liked to spend his time outside, sometimes playing games, or at other times, sports. But he said sport wasn’t what he really liked back then, because he was tired and most times were devoted to lessons in school and also from his home-schooling with his mom. He further recalled the adventures he had as a child, with his friends and family, revealing his biggest fear as a child which is spiritual ghost. We shared a grin as he continued the juvenile story of his.  “You know back then, it was so silly. I was really really scared of ghosts.” –all while laughing, I continued jokingly, “are you still afraid now?” “No, no, no,” He replied with a smile. 

Talking about inspiration in his childhood, his mom plays a really big role in his life, inspiring him to be curious as a child and always keep learning. He also got the love of football from his Grandfather, who is a person who has always liked sports like him, too. 

The earliest time he remembered playing football was at his fourth grade in PE class. “It was my very first time, and I got really excited. I met a lot of cool people, made friends, and it inspired me to just continue.” Besides PE, his favorite class back then was Engineering, because he really liked building things, from all types of toys and legos. Panharoth is also very good at math, then and now. “I was also good at math, so I guess it is another one of my favorite class, too.”

Competitions

“Sometimes, you play for the sake of fun times. But sometimes, you need to play for the championship, too. But with Respect, of course”

This is the wisdom of Panharoth when it comes to competitions. Competition is an important part of a footballer’s life, and Panharoth said excitedly that it is really enjoyable and fun to actually play for his passions. 

To prepare for a competition, Panharoth always discusses with his team to come up with smart strategies. His tip to prepare is to sleep well to prepare for the energetic morning. “Just do it!” he said full of power. 

On the morning of the competitions, there were always a mixture of feelings, nervous, afraid, excited. “However, when I am on the field, I just feel the power and I got all excited” Panharoth talked with a smile. 

The Truest Spirits of Football and Sports

During a competition, the key to true championship is strong teamwork and flexibility. “If you see your friend struggle, go and help them. Guide them to the right position.” 

He recalled a time when he got a cramp, and his friend and his competing players hurried to help him up. “When we got injuries, the two competing teams always help each other out.” Isn’t that the truest spirit of football? 

I was curious about how he got so confident during competitions. Panharoth told me “the confidence comes from the love of football”

 Looking Back on the Road

His most memorable competition was at Phnom Penh Crown. Although his team lost by 0, it was his friendliest competition ever. “They were really good at playing football, but they were really kind, too.”  He recalled the opponent team’s kindness with fondness. 

Life Changed. Thanks to Sports. 

For Panharoth, life without sports is not complete, just like a singer without his voice and a drawer without his sights. 

In the future, he wants to have a career which he is not sure of yet, and an ideal life with his family and sports. 

Without football, he wouldn’t have met new people in his life, and wouldn’t be this happy. So thanks to sports, his life changed. 

Why is Photosynthesis in trees so essential for life on Earth?

What is the fundamental processes that supports the energy for all living organisms? Why are trees so essential for life on earth? How do those trees make food for themselves? How do humans get our oxygen? Where does it come from and how was it made? 

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

In biology class, we explore the answer to these questions: Photosynthesis. 

All living organisms need energy; and glucose is the main source of energy for plants, animals and humans. Glucose is produced in a complex process that requires light energy from the sun and water from the ground which is called Photosynthesis. This is the method that plants, as autotrophs, use to create their own energy to support other heterotrophs. Photosynthesis is a fundamental process for life, as it provides organisms with oxygen that they need and recycle the carbon that we produce. That is why plants are so essential for sustaining the entire ecosystem on this planet. Not only they are producers of energy, trees and plants also help to extract the carbon out of the air; which therefore can immensely help to improve our climate conditions in an era where it is the main threat to the survival of all species. 

Let’s dive deeper into how photosynthesis function in the leaves of plants. 

There are two stages of photosynthesis: the Light Reactions and the Calvin Cycle. 

  1. Light Reactions is the first stage that takes place in the chloroplast (that contains thylakoids which are packages of the green pigment, chlorophyll that helps to absorb the light energy). In this stage, plants will absorb the light energy and transfer them into two types of energy forms called ATP and NADPH. The Light Reactions is when the plants use water and release oxygen as a byproduct.
  2. Calvin Cycle is the second stage that takes place in the stroma (liquid like area in the chloroplast). This stage is when the plants use the carbon dioxide that they absorb from the atmosphere to create glucose (a form of sugar that is the main source of energy for plants, animals and humans) by using the energy absorbed during Light Reactions. 
Photo by Ivan Bandura on Unsplash

Through these complex steps that takes place in the leaves of three trillions trees on this planet, humans, animals and other consumers are able to get the glucose that they need and the waste of our respiration (Carbon Dioxide) can be recycled over and over again.

Without trees, living organisms would not have the energy source that we need and the climate crisis would threaten the survival of all species on Earth. That is why trees are so valuable for all living organisms on this planet. 

First MUN Conference | Giving Youth a Voice

In the opening ceremony of the Model United Nations Conference 2019, the secretary general speaks: “Model United Nations 2019’s theme is Giving Youth a Voice. But how do we can we give a platform for the youth to speak, if they aren’t willing to share their voice?” Those two sentences were the part that spoke to me the most throughout this year’s conference. 

As a first time delegate, I have to admit I was a little bit too audacious to sign up for the General Assembly 3 (GA3) when I could have signed up for the junior committee instead; but this risk I made actually made my first MUN experience more challenging and empowering. 

One of the reasons I signed up for GA3 committee is because of its theme that focuses on the 10th SDG goal which is Reduced Inequalities. I wanted to use my voice as the delegate of the Kingdom of France and also as a youth in the society, to contribute to the resolutions that aim to provide equality, justice, freedom and rights to all people. I tried my best to prepare in advance for this first conference. I spent hours on the computer reading articles, looking at data and any research I can find relating to the three topics of GA3 committee which are: “The question of reducing inequality towards the LGBTQ+ community.”, “The question of representation of youths in government.” and “The question of government censorship of social media”. The two resolutions that I chose to work on are on the question of reducing inequality towards the LGBTQ+ community and the question of representation of youths in government. I was able to speak in favor of the two topics I chose in my resolutions according to the positive support provided by my delegation nation, France. The structure of MUN that requires every delegate to speak from their nation’s viewpoint, and not their personal opinions, provides more challenges but also a powerful voice to delegates. It has given me the power to challenge delegates from nations with opposing point of views, to question their beliefs, but most importantly to compromise. 

The Liger Leadership Academy MUN participants in 2019

On the overall aspect, my first MUN conference was challenging but successful. It had given me memories, hope and strength. It tells me that I have the ability to voice my stance, to challenge and listen to different aspects in the world. Most importantly, it has given me a chance to work with new people towards the same goal which is creating a better world. 

But if there’s one thing I take away the most from this, it is that gathering truthful voices from people is not easy, and we need to really think about how society can better listen to their people. Back to the beginning, I mentioned the secretary general’s speech that has spoken to me the most because it represents the unfortunate truth we live in. Even in the conference, I saw delegates who were scared to speak, scared to ask questions or afraid to just raise their nation placards to express their stances and needs. Why are we afraid to speak? Is it merely the stage fright? Is it the fear resulting from indirect suppression from the society or governments? Is it the result caused by communism oppression that tends to silence rebellious reforms? Or is it because of societal discrimination, prejudice or stereotypes that we constantly battle?

Whatever reason it is, I believe we all need to hear and listen to the voices of the people that we live among, no matter who we are. I believe no real change can be made if those statements of the people themselves are not being heard. I believe there’s no way government actions can work if the people whom those laws apply to aren’t parts of the decisions. 

We need to fully and truthfully encourage, listen to each other, act upon the fully compromised opinions and ultimately creating a better world for all of us. 

Youth Outdoor Leadership Program

Deep in the woods. Lost in the wild. Found my soul

Lifestyles in the city are full of modern technologies and convenience which tend to slowly take humanity away from their true home, nature. After years of growing up in the city, I did not have a lot of time to spend in the wild beauty of nature and get a chance to actually appreciate how special and wonderful it is. Luckily, I got to have a full experience in the wilderness during an exploration called Outdoor Leadership. That is when Nature became a big inspiration for me and I wanted to share that inspiration to other youths in Cambodia. 

Youth Outdoor Leadership Program is an exploration that gives me a chance to use my wonderful experiences and lessons I got from my time in nature to inspire other students in my country. The mission of this project is to empower Cambodian youth to be outdoor leaders and environmental stewards by introducing them to natural spaces, raising awareness of conservation threats, and nurturing the passion and skills needed to positively impact their communities. 

To complete this mission, we have came up with specific goals that we want the youths to experience. 

First of all, we would love to give them a chance to explore the outdoor nature of Cambodia and learn about the wonderful wilderness we have. This will be an experiential outdoor program because the students are going to trek, camp, observe nature and practice a lot of skills in the wild. 

In order to prepare them for the trips, we are going to run four main workshops with them that focuses on different skills including: leadership and community building, medical and risk management, nature appreciation and wilderness skills. By introducing them to these skills, we are hoping to develop their appreciation of nature and the treasures they did not know existed in their own country. 

This round, we focuses mainly on developing the four workshops. The exploration have talked to many outdoor leaders working in different fields and places to strengthen our understanding about outdoor leadership. Through this experience, I can understand deeper about outdoor leadership and how to develop a great workshop. 

Female Outdoor Leadership Team

This Outdoor Leadership Program for Youth is hopeful for creating a huge impact, not only on those youths who are participants, but their community as a whole. Participants who are joining will be encouraged to break down gender stereotypes which always limited girls from doing outdoor activities and sports. The youths will also be encouraged to get outside of their comfort zone and try something that they have never done before. 

To keep the positive impact going, even this program ended, we are going to ask the participants to continue spreading the environmental stewardship to their own community through the Final Impact Project. The participants will create their own projects to share their experiences and awareness to a bigger audience. By doing this, the change will keep going and the hopes of preserving our nature is brighter. 

 

Tragedies of the Vietnam Wars Through the Eye of a little Fighter

In the course of history, why has there been those brutal wars that caused millions and millions of casualties? Why were those citizens killed, had their families torn apart, had their thoughts suppressed and forced to become refugees? Why did these innocent people needed to starve to death, leave their homes and do not even have access to basic human rights? Why? 

I have been exploring pieces of answers to those lingering questions above and what I found out was excruciating. 

I studied the history of the Vietnam wars, focusing on Communism and Democratic war between dominating countries. When the United States strongly supported the Democracy system, there were countries who opposed this and fought for communism instead. One of those countries were Vietnam, and the different beliefs of political systems between leaders broke the country apart. There is when the wars between the Northern Communists led by Ho Chi Minh supported by the Soviet Union and Southern troops supported by the US begins. 

After relentless fights that causes countless casualties of armies, and innocent people, the Northern Communists took over Saigon on the 30th of April, 1975, and there is when the chaos grew in a blink of an eye.

Mobs of South Vietnamese civilians scale the 14-foot wall of the U.S. Embassy trying to reach evacuation helicopters as the last Americans departed from Vietnam.
South Vietnamese trying to reach the evacuation helicopters at the US embassy. Photo from Time.

Thousands of South Vietnamese escaped the took-over land, left behind their homes, risking their lives. These refugees did whatever it takes to leave. 

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During the fall of Saigon, many US navies and air crafts were on humanitarian missions to evacuate hundred thousands of South Vietnamese.  This place is half a mile from the US Embassy according to Time.com. Photo from: Wikipedia

I followed the painful life of a ten-year-old Vietnamese girl, Ha, whose father was captured and had to fight for her fate. Ha’s diary was expressed in vividly-painted poems that describes the pain of each days she coped through during the South Vietnam war. She called the diary: “Inside Out and Back Again”. 

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The Book which Ha describes her life through poems. This is Ha and her Papaya tree at the back of her house in South Vietnam. She sees the tree as her hope, and it was cut down when her house was abandoned. 

The poems inside the diaries reveals Ha’s rebellious and wild character. She was born into a war-bound country with history of brutal colonization, slavery, but also a country with stories of brave and rebellious heroes. She was trying to become one of them. Ha was a girl who questions the world around her and always fights for a difference. 

Ha did not let her father’s absence, the fact that she is the youngest girl in the family, and especially the chaos the wars brought to her, affect her ambitions to fight for what she thinks is right. However, the tragic shapes her to be a strong and fierce girl who learns to see the beauty of the world and remain strong even in the darkest days of her refugee experience. 

Yes, her family decided to flee their homes just like hundreds of thousands of other people as well, leaving behind all of the treasured memories and her father. But these struggles are just the beginning of a much harder journey her family was about to take. Throughout her journey, Ha experienced extreme hunger, thirst, and for the first time, she learned what a refugees battle is like. 

After the days on the refugee camp island, lucky to be evacuated by the US navies, she arrived at Alabama, the home of an American host. There is when I cried, learning about the extreme discrimination this little girl was going through in the foreign land. However, she remains strong and stand against the wind. 

I learned so much from Ha’s life and her overwhelming strength against the chaos hit me. 

This is just a life out of over 120,000 refugees who escaped South Vietnam. 

There were many more stories of tragedies, loss, evacuate missions, bravery and strength, buried in the heart of these people, the victim of the war. 

These stories were the prove that the world deserves peace. The people deserve a life where they can freely express their thoughts, without being prosecuted for their identity, assumed identity. The people deserve freedom. They deserve protection for their basic human rights. They want and fully deserve well-lived lives.  

I hope we will learn from the past and avoid stepping on these dark paths of history again.