Have you ever wonder how are parasites capable of manipulating animals or hosts much bigger than them? I used to wonder the same, too. But after studying about it, I realize parasites have a unique and smart system to survive, reproduce by controlling its host.
Parasites are microorganisms that live on or inside a host organism body which they are capable of not only harm but sometimes kill its host as well. Their main survival is through transmitting itself from one host to the other. In order to do so, they need to find their own ways to manipulate their hosts by learning abut the host’s environment, food-cycle and more.
There are many different ways to control their host’s behaviors including
1- Direct Brain Hijacking
(Example 1: Gordian Worm: Imagine its host as cricket which naturally more likely to be in dry areas rather than wet ones. However, the Gordian Worms need water to breed and mate, so when they hit the age to mate, the worms produce a protein that confuses the navigation system of the cricket which results in the confused cricket jumps into a water source. Often times, the crickets will drown and the Gordian Worms can go out to mate. Later on, their eggs will be eaten by water insects which then go out on land and will be eaten by new crickets. This is how the Gordian Worm preserves its species).
(Example 2: Rabies Parasite: These parasites often affect dogs and other mammals, traveling up their host’s nerve systems and into the brain. This results in the inflammation in the dog’s brain which would lead to death, but before they die, the parasites would affect the aggressiveness level inside the brains, increases the virus-transmitting saliva and also making them hard to swallow. All of these effects result in the increased tendency to bite another mammal which makes it easier to pass on the viruses and parasites.
(Example 3: Ophiocordyceps or known as the Zombie Fungus: Their ideal hosts are tropical ants that normally live on treetops. Their first move to the ant is through the piercing exoskeleton which results in the ant’s convulsion that makes them fall off the tree. Then, the parasites would control the ant’s behavior which makes it wander without consciousness until the ant comes across with leaves with the perfect condition for the fungi to breed which allows the fungi to latch itself onto the leave. The ant dies and the parasite will affect its body and build a tall thin stalk on the ant’s neck which after several weeks, shoots out more spored to affect more ants. )
(Example 4: Malaria Parasite: This parasite is an extremely dangerous kind for humans which is responsible for hundreds of millions of malaria cases every year The parasite’s hosts are mosquitos which are the spreading agents of the virus that causes malaria. The infected mosquitos tend to bite more frequently and longer. Humans who got the viruses are more attracted to mosquito bites. )
From the parasites that affect the directly to the brain (Gordian Worms), to the ones that blocks the host’s enzyme system to make them go to more preys to infect (Malaria Parasites), the ones that overdrive the immune system and increase the anxiety rates (Rabies Parasites), these parasites have powerful and effective way to manipulate species who are much bigger then them. It’s scary when the parasites can be so manipulative because we do not know what are the actions that they made us do and how much are we actually being controlled by them?
“Use the potential, talent, and passion you possess to be the change you want to see in the world – Angely”
I was born, raised, and had been living my whole life in Cambodia, a country that has been constantly reforming after the destructive history of the Khmer Rouge genocide which did not only killed millions of people but also leaves many damages on this once-prosperous country and its citizens. The trauma and the intense oppression from the genocide leave the older generation fearful of new possibilities, revolutionary ideas, and innovative ways to help change this country. The stereotypes, discriminations, and traditions of our culture keep all of us in a fixed mindset-box which contradicts the possibilities of new technological and innovative solutions to the major problems in our society. For instance, the gender gaps in Cambodian society that discriminate women from pursuing careers in entrepreneurship, technological, architectural and scientifical fields which results in the lack of human resources that results in the decrease of the development of the whole nation. Due to these inequalities and gaps I have seen in this once-prosperous country, I strongly believe that fair and equal distribution of career opportunities and rights for people, especially those who belong to certain racism or gender, will benefit the country and the world as a whole and leads to a better future for humankind.
In our society, there is this invisible stereotype that lives inside the mindset of people that limits girls, people with disability, LGBTQ community or people with different skin colors and religions from being who they are, limits their opportunities and choices, take away their rights and freedom. As an example, most people would think that men are better coders and business managers than women, which therefore results in fewer opportunities giving to girls in order to pursue these fields. However, I believe women are as talented and can be as successful as men if given the same education, career opportunity, and freedom. If society can encourage all kinds of people, regardless of their identity, all nations would bolster because of the increase in human resources.
Promoting opportunities and encourage girls and children towards participating in programming, entrepreneurship, and science.
Technovation 2019 (1st place from Junior Division)
This school year (2018-2019), I and the other four girls built a team (The Credos) for a business and coding competition called Technovation. This competition aims to enhance girls’ interest and skills in entrepreneurship and technology by creating a 12-week program to teach girls both of these skills. What is even more special about Technovation is the competitions that are held both nationally and internationally that allow girls to compete, pitch their business ideas and showcase the application that they have developed throughout the course. Everyone who has participated in the regional pitching events was blown away by the innovative ideas, confidence, and professionalism and especially, the entrepreneurship and technology mindsets that all Cambodian of those courageous Cambodian girls have shown. Because of the hard work we put in, there was a successful achievement that happened that day of the national pitch event.
Our team (The Credos) won the 1st place from the Junior division, even though we are just 13-14! This achievement and the overall program are great inspiration for young start-up developers and coders. Most importantly, it debunks the stereotype that girls aren’t as talented coders and entrepreneurs as boys and showcases that the stereotype that girls or children aren’t talented coders and entrepreneurs is definitely just a one-sided story.
First Lego League Robotics in Singapore: Developing the Possibility of Change for the Astronauts and the Future of Technology.
In March 2019, I was a part of the Robotics team that went to compete in Singapore with hundreds of other teams from around the world. There were 5 girls and 5 boys that worked together on this project. The FLL competition requires students to program the robots to complete missions which include researching problems that the astronauts are facing when they go out in explorations that are within our solar system and coming up with ideas to solve these problems for them. This project highly encourages students, especially girls who normally can’t find opportunities to work on technology-related and science-related projects. It gives all of us a chance to play with block-coding, robot controlling and researching on real scientific problems.
This project shows me that girls and young students are a strong force that supports and pushes the whole team towards success. We can research about scientific problems and come up with innovative ideas to help astronauts with their problems, and more importantly, we can embrace and promote collaboration in the team well.
Our creative solutions are presented to the judges, and many appreciations, astonishments, and supports are shown from the smile of the judges when we confidently presented our project to them. Finally, we won an award from the competition which is ‘Overseas Best Performing Team’ and received a trophy and medals. This success is not just about winning the competition, but also about how students and girls can develop the possibility of change and have the potential to create a better world.
Young Students are Capable and Passionate Raise Awareness about Necessary Change
Almost all events, conferences, campaigns or other social activities consist of mostly adults, trying to raise awareness and encourage change in communities, but I believe young students have the ability to do the same, with their open-minded ideas and the vision of a better future.
Cambodian Model United Nations Conference, The solutions worth implementing.
In May 2019, there is a Cambodian Model United Nations Conference that is organized by three senior girls from the Liger Leadership Academy and participated by young high-school students who, surprisingly, are mostly girls! It was a mind-blowing experience, with young students expressing their concerns towards global issues and sharing ideas towards making a change, not only in their community but also for common good for the world as a whole.
Each student came to the conference with a country that they will represent as delegates. The students represent their country very well while debating on the different resolutions on each of the issues. I was the delegate of the United Kingdom who was debating in General Assembly 3, which covered the topic of Gender Equality for the LGBTQcommunity and the Question of Improving Air Quality Throughout the Globe.
Despite the young age, students took initiatives to come up to the podium and presented their ideas with formal language, respect towards racism and differences in different countries, especially, their ideas were very practical for realistic practices for governments around the world. I believe youths are a strong force for our future, so creating opportunities and encouragement for them to express their ideas and solutions for global issues can be a big benefit for mankind.
Where are the best resources for creative ideas? Where can we find great and inspiring empowerment? Well, the TEDx Talks presented in the theme of Ideas Empowered that are delivered on December, 1st, 2019 is amongst the most mind-changing presentations you can ever find in Cambodia. Young students delivered presentations that showcase their perspectives and concerns towards the different field of issues, from Environmental Topics, Literature and Culture topics to Growth-Mindset, Stereotypes and Discriminations Topics. I was one of the speakers of this event, and I was talking about Empowering Literature in Cambodia because I believe that literature has the power to change lives, encourage, and embrace voices from people, and change the mindsets of the society. I talked about the importance of reading and preserving literature and how it can help us to achieve both personal and social goods. (To know more about my talk, check out this portfolio post)
The tremendous flow of different ideas and mindsets from the bright young presenters shook the audience to the core, leaving them refreshed with new perspectives towards society and life. raising awareness about global issues, helping them to unlock their potential from the part of their mind they have never been aware of, encouraging audiences to step out of their comfort zone and to start reaching for their dreams and a life well-lived, and more advantages that the audience experience. It was one of the most inspiring events for me because seeing the bright young students that are the key to our future generation filled with such enthusiasm to change the world into a better place is just what we need for this world.
It is understandable that Cambodia or other countries, that have been through great disasters in their history, are fearful of changes and revolutions in ideas and mindsets, for instance, stereotypes or discriminations against people with a certain age, gender or race. However, I wish to encourage everyone to start embracing new ideas, mindsets, solutions, and technologies that can lead our world to a better future. Instead of protesting those new concepts, try to consider its advantages that can help our world. Encourage voices from all kinds of people, regardless of their age, gender or race. If we want a bright future for the next generation, we need to start taking action and creating the change right now! Everything starts from ourselves, so begin to explore your own potential, talent, and passion and how can you use that to contribute to change this world. How can you raise awareness about change, encourage change, develop the possibility of change in your very own community? I believe that each and every one human being has a unique potential to be a part of the change. We are important change-makers and we have the ability to do so. Therefore, we need to work and collaborate together to encourage the possibility of a bright future for the next generation.
‘If you can already change and inspire the ministry of Education Youth and Sports, I am positive you will be the next generation of positive change agents for Cambodian future through your works and efforts as I have seen‘ — His excellency, Hong Choun Naron, the minister of MoEys Cambodia.
On the 15th of July, 2019, My technovation group (The Credos) went to the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport (MoEYS) to present our project of developing Amara, an application that helps artists and empower Cambodian Culture.
After gotten an invite from the ministry, we were so excited to share our project with the minister and the people there. It is a perfect opportunity to expand and find more supports as well as critical comments for our application from experienced economists and government workers.
His excellency, Hong Choun Naron, the minister of the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports, was also delighted to meet with the four teams. He shows immense support and encouragement for our applications while giving us a lot of thoughtful and wise feedbacks. His remarks were extremely inspiring to me, as well as everyone there.
The discussion opened with delighted pleasure, with teams sharing their highlights, lessons, and perspectives towards technology and entrepreneurship education in Cambodia, and how Technovation helps to empower girl, especially how it debunks the stereotype of Cambodian girls.
The four teams, including my team, the Credos, then got a chance to present our pitch presentations to the floor. Everyone in the hall was pleased to see how the dreams and potentials of us as Cambodian girls would give back great impacts on our still impoverished society.
All of the applications from the four teams responded to the real needs of the current Cambodian Society and will positively make huge impacts on the lives of millions of people out there. Although our project is still in a prototype form, We have high expectations of its future development and launching for the great impacts it will bring to our country, and hopefully the world.
In the meeting, I notice how all of us seems to be immensely supportive of how Information Technology and Education for girls can create a better future for Cambodia Economics. How the ministry acceded the touchstone of future education with Techentrepreneurship gives me a real optimism of Cambodian future human resources.
It was a privilege to be a part of this marvelous meeting. The lessons and inspiration from the ministry will always be a powerful message that shapes my dreams and who I want to be in the future.