Impact Statement

 

Have you ever been mixed-up about your sexuality? Because I have been drowning in the deep confusion for so long. Five years ago, I truly acknowledged that I wasn’t secure with my pure identity. Once I used to study at the government school. A zone, where uncertainty often showed upon me, where they stigmatized LGTBQ+ people senselessly. BULLIED. “TALK LIKE A MAN,” “WALK LIKE A MAN,” “AH KTERY (Intersex-negative connotation).” These burning words have labeled me like a tattoo that I couldn’t erase. I’ve heard these unacceptable languages for years wherever I been, but I stressfully remained in silence. Shy. Afraid. One word has turned me from a silly boy to who I couldn’t expect. Introvert. Emotional distress. This was a time I was really confused about my sexual attraction and who I really am. I didn’t even know what is LGTBQ+ back then. So, I thought I have brain issues, that why I was thinking and behaving differently from the other ordinary boys. Bully didn’t only happen to me once but over again. Some days I wished that they could at least call me by my name “SOKHENG.” The nickname was stuck in my mind until  I completely forgot my real name. A name that officially belongs to me “Sokheng.” Only I remembered, “Ah Ktery” did not define either one of “LGTBQ+” but only “intersex.”  

LGTBQIA+ is the acronym of “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual.”

Lesbian: A woman who is emotionally or sexually attracted to other women. Gay: A sexual orientation that describes a person who is emotionally or sexually attracted to people of their own gender; commonly used to describe men. Transgender: A person whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. Bisexual: A person who is emotionally or sexually attracted to more than one sex or gender. Queer: They are people whose gender identity can be both male and female, neither male nor female, nor a combination of male and female. Intersex; Born with sex characteristics such as genitals or chromosomes that do not fit the typical definitions of male or femaleAsexual; A person who experiences no sexual attraction to other people (Alia E. Dastagir, USA TODAY).

A welcoming place where I was born doesn’t comfort me, Cambodia. A nation that doesn’t fully support the LGTBQ+ community. That’s why Cambodians still lack knowledge about this topic since this topic isn’t provided at school. Resulting in, discrimination, violence, suicide, and exclusion. Plus, crude nicknames: Ah PD, Ah Ktery (Intersex), A Nhi (Female), Ah Sim Pi (Two SIM cards), Ah Jake (Banana) intentionally apply to this community. Yet, there is no legal protection as well as no same-sex marriage recognition. Khmer Marriage tradition between man and woman has been rooted in Khmer culture for centuries. Until this nation couldn’t accept the fact of same-sex marriage tradition. These influences and the traditional norms are how the laws are implemented. Besides, Culture has been tremendously shaping Cambodians to behave, to talk, to believe a certain way, for instance like Chbab Bros & Chbab Srey (Man’s role & Woman’s role) written to be practiced. This presents how much Cambodia is behind other ASEAN countries to accept the community to the kingdom. Born in a Khmer shelter, I don’t have my right and chances to expose my true self to the outside world. My parents do not allow me to do certain activities that boys are restricted to such as do makeup, wear women’s clothes, play barbie, instead they demand me to behave like Kon bros derm trong bram hat (a son with five meters chest long). OBEY!

Because of this discrimination toward the community (figure above), it encouraged one of the first cohort students (Venghour-17 years) at Liger Leadership Academy (my school) to step into action and confidently start a project to end this issue. He has been through tough circumstances as well as discrimination, just because of his personality, behavior, and appearance. So, in early 2020 of my academic year, I was accepted as a member of the ADOLESCENCE project led by this young male student (Venghour). As in the project, “The ultimate goal is to extend the awareness of the complications or struggles relating to gender identity and sexuality, and expressing love through the power of art,” (-Venghour). 10 teammates and a project’s leader (Venghour) have come up with a defined solution to tackle this issue. In class, we separated into five departments: studio art, marketing, performance, sculpture, and media. “ART,” a leader himself chose art as a concept to promote change and positivity to the community since art is his potential. 

To start a class, we affirmed ourselves to be ready for the day. “… I AM AN ARTIST,” this last phrase always reminded and provoked me to productively work. In addition, we looked up to different LGTBQ+ artists like Prumsodun Ok (A Khmer classical dancer), Jonathan Lyndon Chase (contemporary artist), and more to gain inspiration. But also investigated their techniques of how they deliver messages through their artwork. Soon it’s finished, we broke up to work for each of our departments. We were working on different types of skills: painting, photoshopping, sculpture designing, coding, marketing, and dancing. It required a lot of determination, time, practice, and love, in order to fulfill our ambition. Each member has been contributing much energy and hard work just to produce this visual art gallery and our performance to become reality.  Furthermore, we shared personal stories, individual experiences, and discussed deeply how LGTBQ+ people have been affected by their society. 

Just a first few weeks ago in the project, I slowly changed my perspective toward this community already. I started to not judge or exclude them, instead I have opened my heart and mind to accept and cheer them. I was here in the project for a reason, I knew I am here to change the world for the better. I’m not just an ordinary boy in the town anymore, but now I’m a leader. So I don’t wait for the change like I used to because change begins from me. That is why I don’t hesitate anymore to be colorful and to show the beauty of who I am. 

After seven weeks of work and much sweat and tears, we opened the first show to our Liger family. Performance under a topic of Discrimination in School – Fourth Grade from a life experience that Venghour encountered. I have never danced in front of many audiences with eyes staring at me through the whole dance but suddenly felt like a professional dancer. I danced to bring back who I really am. To bring the old me that was funny, full of myself, joyful, colorful, and confident. Not shamefully hide the pain of the bully to only me anymore. Let the world start to hear; “You’re weak,” “YOUR BUD IS TOO CERVE,” “You’re like a girl,”  Ah PD, Ah Ktery (Intersex), A Nhi (Female), Ah Sim Pi (Two SIM cards), Ah Jake (Banana). We danced with a teardrop and in pain, to reveal how much we have to suffer, but most importantly was to empower other LGTBQ+ starts to stand up and value yourself, also to show the reality of our lives. Plus, to stop the random naming toward these people. This is what adolescence project is about. However, Human rights in Cambodia seem to fade away from us. Still, I risk until I receive acceptance, rights, and equality. I surely do it for the sake of the community. ស៊ូដើម្បីជីវិត! Fight for life! 

Being here for seven weeks, I gradually comprehended who I was as a person. The confidence I noticed myself from the beginning I stepped into this project and now is hugely changed. By contributing my ideas and vision to this project, it has reduced my stress and pain that has been in me for years. I learned to be a leader both for myself and others. Especially I got to explore many paintings as well as amazing artists. Besides, I also learned about team collaboration, team management, and creativity. The personality that is always fun and the state of owning my beauty and my name is back. This project has inspired me to step a little beyond my limitation zone and push me to be a greater human being. Felt a bit bliss!

But that’s not it! 

A final task of the adolescence project is to exhibit an art gallery full of sensitive masterpieces with audio of Venghour’s life story hidden behind as well as the last performance will be performed. Different types of artworks will be showcased: digital painting, photograph, canvas painting, sculpture, and videos. We’ll offer this opportunity for Khmer elders and Khmer youths to start to understand what is LGTBQ+ and the struggles through this whole gallery. We hope that after the exhibition, We could see some changes and differences. It’s very needed to balance the support of LGTBQ+ people to be equal to typical people, in order to define peace and humanity. My team planned to exhibit this visual gallery in 2020 before the last month. Although, due to the outbreak (COVID-19) reported from Wuhan, China; the government immediately demanded all the academies to pause and some companies have shut down. That! We couldn’t accomplish our task. Even though we are in quarantine, we still connected through zoom to continue our project, so that the assigned tasks can be completed on time. Also, to ensure that we can establish a wonderful gallery. 

After all, I have come to the conclusion. By went through the adolescence project and many past experiences, it made me realize that I’m no different from anyone in the world. Not different from anyone who wants others to treat them equally and respectfully. Besides, because of this project lesson about LGTBQ+, I’m able to define my true self with the purity that led me to be a part of the LGTBQIA+ universe as “Bisexual.” To put in a perspective, the adolescence project was a helpful contribution to the world and specifically Cambodia by helping to expand the awareness related to the community through the power art. This project has trained me to be a real change agent. That’s why I have got up to face reality and be mentally and physically strong to overcome those obstacles. On the other hand, I highly expect the people who have been affected by this project as well as affected by this article continue to express love and care. Call LGTBQIA+ by their names is one of the considerable ways to show your LOVE and RESPECT.

History

It’s such a long time that I haven’t shared any thoughts and activities that I did in the English literacy class. Well, today, I will let you know what we have been doing for the past month and during the quarantine. This school term, I studied with a new facilitator, plus a new theme, which History.

I learned about the history of the Russian revolution. Learning history isn’t so conflict like I used to think about. Learning from one event in history to another can help us to visualize the whole story of what happened during that specific period. There are emotions and thoughts going into the discussion as well as while learning. Besides, we take the vocabulary quiz once a week, since there’s a lot of deep words. I actually learned a lot of new lessons like propaganda techniques, analyze the character’s personality, new vocab and etc.

After learning the root of the Russian revolution history, we continue to the Animal Farm book by George Orwell, which is the allegory of this revolution. Plenty of British old words that most of them, I can’t understand well. I like how the author used animal symbolism to tell political ideas and stories. READ and Share!!

Now, it comes to a final product for this study topic, meaning that everyone has to show their works and knowledge through a video since we are no longer at school due to the global pandemic. As I went through my friends’ videos, it was all fantastic, they shared thoughtful topics that I haven’t thought of. For me, I chose the children’s storybook, “The journey of wings,” for children to better understand of the animalism. That’s it!

Khmer Literacy

Khmer Literacy has been one of the most active and productive classes that I ever have taken over this year. All of the assignments are a very standard level of education, meaning that I have to really focus on my studying in class cautiously. Otherwise, I might miss the main point of the lessons. Writing. Reading. Speaking. Listening. 

MC. In Khmer culture is very essential that you are doing the correct greeting introduction to a different range of people in society. I sometimes struggle to use the right language to greet the monk or minster. The language here at Cambodia is quite complicated since, we need to use it properly (Monk language, King language). I presented my work in front of my teacher as well as my classmates. To stand up and face everyone, while their eyes on me were making me so nervous and so uncomfortable since I never experience it, plus, it’s MY FIRST TIME!! 

Public Speaking. To master communication and persuasive skill, we need to practice a lot of public speaking. There is a lot going into this one topic such as always be confident, energetic, good interaction, great body language, and eye contact. Stood up in class and talked alone while the camera was filming me, that situation was very strange and wired and that’s all I can describe. To be honest, I am not good at this but I have tried my best to show that I can still do it. I have to research on my topic and started to narrate it down before it comes to stage time. You have to collect all of your nervous, uncomfortable, wired, strange emotions then, stack them into one corner after then, step out from that corner and just let yourself experience a new opportunity.  

Novel. Reading time!!!! Yeh- WAIT WAIT!! You Know what? I’m not into book that much but I’m good at encouraging others to do certain acts. So, make sure you spend some time reading the book or articles, just to be in the book world for minutes. You can feel the peace and calm, relax. ME TOO!! I will read. Don’t you worry! I read a book called ថៅកែចិត្តចោរ (Tov ke Chet Joa). We shared our ideas and questions to make us all understand clearly about this book. 

Essay-តែងសេចក្ដី (T’eng sake kdey). The structure of the Khmer essays are so conflicted and we have to follow all of the guiding rules in order to get a full point on each of the part. Most of the time, I don’t remember all of the structures but at least I am doing fine in my class.

Adolescence

A phase where impossibility does not exist!                                                        Purpose of Adolescence project is to create an art gallery with the audio tour narrates the narrative of a teenage boy, specifically the discovery of his own gender. In addition, this project is trying to change the traditional myths and society discrimination toward the LGTBQ+ community. We truthy believe that using the magic of ART will bridge us to succeed in the project.

The fascinating fact of our project is, we always begin the class with affirmation, it’s one of the strategies to provoke our energy and our brain ready to dive into work. Besides, to work in this project specifically, Ingenuity is needed, therefore we always watch the other artists’ artistic artworks for our inspiration of the day. Including some break for us to relax from our works. Assignment!!!!! Yeahhhhh!! We got to present our artworks in front of everyone in the class and detailing the stories hidden behind the masterpiece. I just love the organization of this project. It seems to be so busy but it turns out so much better. I’m amazed to see everyone contributes their hard work and precious time to this project. Thanks!

In order to accomplish the goal, we need a ton of hours, and plus a lot of members to contribute to the team so that we can complete the tasks on time. So the leader (Venghour) of the project has divided the team into five departments, 1. Studio art, 2. Performance art, 3. Sculpture, 4. Marketing, and 5. Media. Before that, we started off with reading the narrative, so that we can work to transform those stories into different artworks regard to different departments.

In this project, it isn’t a matter if you are not a professional artist, as long as you have the commitment, love, passion, and enthusiasm. Me, I’m not into the dance with a lot of difficult and professional movements, and also different kind of techniques but I still continue it. Even though sometimes, I complain that it’s hard and I can’t do it but a side of me, I’m a person who loves to dance. On the other hand, we already released our first dance to a huge group of students in our academy during the sharation event. Hahaha! I didn’t dance the same as the choreography for two times, but life is still keeping forward so make sure, you try to risk something before it’s late. Most of the time, we didn’t go along smoothly. Sometimes it was rough, dark, and other times, it was light but you know what, we gotta keep on moving with positivity. SMILE and HEAD UP!! 

Khmer Children’s Literature Project

Khmer Children’s literature project was mainly to publish six children books based on six Liger Leadership academy core values, which contained, Stewardship, Integrity, Optimism, appreciation, determination, and ingenuity. These six storybooks aim to help Khmer kids access to Cambodian storybooks with such brave messages to push kids to develop themselves as a great human being in the future and an intelligent learner.

First week, we began to read other storybooks to get inspiration and had some ideas in order to map out what our stories were. On the other hand, Graphic was another main element of the storybooks to attract their attention to grab these books to read and get inspired. It also helps to boost their education and intellect. After, collected those needed elements which were, correct contents, wonderful graphics, so now what?  “Indesignnnnnnn,” This platform allowed me to design my own pages and export as a digital book. Came to a lasttttt process which sharing book and found the sponsors to help us publish these six cartoonish books to the world.

To share our books, my team and I went to Kampot province to participate in the “Kampot Reader and Writer festival”. The event attended a few people, there weren’t many kids but still kept our positive attitude. As problem solvers, we quickly took an opportunity to find kids nearby who were fascinated by our books. After we came back, some of my friends and I found a kindergarten quite far from an event location so we decided to go as our last hour without hesitation. I really enjoy the moment with them. I shared my story and my graphics to them with enthusiasm. After this trip, I got a lot of good suggestions and comments as well as compliments. Overall, I hope these six books can impact Khmer kids and build a bridge that leads to a brighter education. (MY BOOK-TIN AND THE GHOST ON THE SIDEWALK)

Website-First Experience

Learning to develop the webpage of the website by using a different kind of techniques, codes, and styles are really complex in order to create an attractive website. The first experience was very contended to overcome those difficulties, but after learning for a while, I understood that “HTML and CSS” were much easier than “Python”. Plus, all the tags are understandable and uncomplicated. After one chapter to another, I am able to use tags to form my own codes. In class, I always remind myself, what is the subsequent, so then I can prepare myself to continue. After learning HTML and CSS, Max my teacher introduced everyone in the class to a new code system to use; It’s much easier to use which is “Bootstrap”. The first touch, I thought it was very struggling and hard. After studying and getting to understand it even more; I discovered that those setup codes were more helpful than those two codes above. The goal of the class was to create one website for each student, so am I? Check my web here. About me.

Refugee/Literacy

This New school year, the Refugee topic was the first topic that I studied and discussed During this project, I learned different stories in history. Mostly, it was about the Vietnam war and Inside-out and Back-again novel. In class, everyone shared their information and did teamwork to figure out some of the important events that were happening in the stories or poems. Learning to write and structure a poem, try to perceive meaning from poetry, It’s very challenging for me to define an actual meaning and the right perspective of the author. After 7 weeks of learning the Refugee topic, I felt really connected to those refugees who were struggling to find resettlement and other resources for their survival. Last Chance (Poem, Read)   

                

          Vikki Vansickle                                                   Pamela Walton                                          

How Can I Change Cambodia?

               Cambodia is one of the countries among others, whose share the border between neighboring countries but in terms of the land, Cambodia owns the ocean along to the west region of the country: Kep, Kampot, Sihanoukville, and Koh Kong. To illustrate that, this attractive beach catches the tourists’ attention to visit every year, therefore, Cambodian workers can earn more income by running restaurants, hotels, fishing, and etc. On the other hand, Ocean’s playing a significant role in the economy industry, transport the import products and export products throughout the country. Besides that, recently, research estimates that Khmer’s ocean has 545 species presented. These fascinating creatures are to preserve but several study researchers aren’t yet discovering and begin to dig out to the depth of ocean’s exploration, however, Marine Conservation Cambodia steps out to protect and help to prevent threats due to the illegal activities that appear in Koh Seh tropical island. 

                 The mysterious diversity, aliens organisms live and depend down there such as vertebrates species, invertebrates species, bioluminescence and more. Furthermore, coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove forests provide tremendous habitats and feed the tiny fishes to survive and defend themselves from the larger fishes. For instance, oxygen produced by trees, for us as individuals to breath, according to National Geographic explained that one-third(28%) of the oxygen produced from forests, while the other two-thirds(70%) came from the sea plants(phytoplankton, algae, and seagrasses), and the 2% left from other resources. Overall, Ocean’s a magnificent life element because it assists us by offering oxygen, food, and job but have you ever considered of the threat due to the ocean. Take a while and restore and imagine, how could you help the ocean become a marvelous place?

                 Presently illegal fishing, trash, and water pollution are being a concern for Cambodia’s ocean. Take the case of illegal fishing, “Trawling” is a common method to fish, the enormous net or electric net design to catch everything on the bottom of the seafloor but for the main trawlers’ fishing target are just fishes, shrimps, crabs, and octopuses, but why is that net gathers everything? Imagine, these gorgeous creatures have gone, the food web will collapse soon there aren’t longer those species would exist again. Fishermen get advantage from the sea every day but the impact is way essential. In order to decrease the amount of trawling is an arduous process, why? more percentage of fishermen that won’t continue with the traditional method, since the fishing style was updated. A developing country like Cambodia, the market systems are still figuring out, hope to look for a better quality system with a high price for all the products, to make fishermen go back with a traditional method.  The traditional method isn’t an effective net as trawling net. Also, Cambodia should at least have a marine authority station in each of the main islands to look after the unlaw trawler do the illegal fishing, to do that the salary for policies should be increased, otherwise, they’ll be involved in these illegal activities, instead of fighting for the right one, police, and fisherman both should work together to make it happen. 

                 Besides that, Trashes’s another effective threat as well, from Phnom Penh Post said that around 10 million plastic bags are used in Phnom Penh city every day. Plus 90 percent of plastic bags in the world ends up in the ocean, Cambodia’s also involved. As you know that plastic doesn’t biodegradable easily, it can stay up to hundreds and thousands of years. By the time it broke down, it’ll transform into microparticles called microplastics, the chemical substance leak especially into soil and sea. This chemical is so harmful to animals, humans, and environments. In addition to this threat, Trash bins should already stay in its position where the people can put all the trashes instead of throwing them down. Trash bins are an excellent choice but better to decrease the number of plastics by using fabric bags, reusable bags, biodegradable bags, and paper bag instead. The major supermarkets in Phnom Penh such as Aeon Mall, Lucky supermarket begin with a new plan by charging 400៛ ($0.10) per plastic bag, such a great plan for all the supermarkets in Cambodia or in any foundations. To evaluate is easy but the actual action needs more concentration, Nowadays, NGOs and Academies have helped to spread the lessons to the students and citizens about the impacts and benefits of plastic in our country. Hobbies can be changed if you try so from everyone’s help, the government also easy to work and communicate with. Our society is ours and it always still ours so please clean to help our kingdom wonderful.    

                 “Coastal Developments” known as a huge threat to the ocean too, Coastal Development refers to the constructions and factories on the coastal line. As a consequence, Water pollution ends up in the sea by these entertainment places after their activity according to Casino.org. Moreover, water pollution(wastewater) divided into four huge categories: Industrial, domestic, agricultural and urban. By the time it reaches the sea, the ocean will be polluted by these four wastewaters. As soon as it enters in, marine diversities are a victim rather than get advantage from this wastewater. All the species can’t survive in these dirt water because of the mixture chemical. Different kind of species will soon die and suffer from drinking or breathing in this wastewater as well as air pollution that makes the human struggle to breathe. On the other hand, the owner of the building next to the seashore should know of this huge issue. This issue wouldn’t solve without every single both international and the national company owners and more importantly is the government, this problem needs government helps and the owners of the constructions need to work together with government find the solution to input these wastewaters to another place. Wastewater can benefit for you if you separate them which one of these wastewaters can continue to use such as, water the farm, clean material, and more. That way, you don’t submit to wastewater pollution in the world. 

                  As a closing conclusion, the ocean helps humans, therefore, it should deserve the benefit back. The crisis still remains and still increase from day to another. Like Trawling, Trash, and pollution are an unresolved issue, all the issue won’t disappear but it cuts off from little to little. For instance, the helpers can only help but never see a true person who actually made a mistake, rarely step out to processing, helping, and responsible. Solutions above are just my visionary ideas for you to identify and understand to start to love our ocean. for me, I’m just an ordinary boy who just has this critical idea but a person with that knowledge in their conscience will never make the disaster to life but always educate others and walk on the right track to show the real role module is. To put in another form, this issue should be a government job but without every single one of you, it won’t change, so please think before you take action to do anything in life otherwise, it’ll cause a serious problem to happen just like this one. 

PROJECT & STEM

             Engineering has spread throughout the world, a goal to help human’s life easier with the electrical machines or naturally discovered machines. This round and the previous round, my facilitators has shown me a benefit of using the simple machines, also not just that, I discovered, how the machines are worked as well. A simple machine is a device by its self to lift material up or down and push backward or forward in the atmosphere by using less energy. Simple machines such as the lever, inclined plane, pulley, screw, wedge, wheel and axle have helped the world every single precious day. The enormous machine is the combination of the simple machine together, as an instance, lever and wedge form an ax, this called compound machine. 

              In my STEM class, we discussed and present our research on this simple machine topic. In each team, we presented a different kind of the simple machine and the working process of a simple machine that facilitator has given. For my team, the lever has chosen for us, the research found out that, a lever is “ a simple machine the combination of a long beam or rod that is fixed to a pivot point which is fulcrum onto which a load is attached and an effort force is applied”. This obstacle topic has never shown until we understand this topic transparency. As an example, a fishing rod is a compound machine. Isn’t it impossible or Why? That is Engineering!! 

                For Engineering project with another facilitator, We studied about a toy that connects to the simple machines and we brought them to live as we discover it on our own. To bring this Engineering subject to a government school to study and experience of doing experimental activities with us is the main target for our project. Finally, we achieve it, we shared our knowledge to three schools in Phnom Penh city and it got out really fascinating to them as a result. At the same time, we built a toy but we still tough them some lesson related to the toy that they were building. 

                This Final school year, STEM still my incredible subject for me to study and try hard to become a better improver who always listen and concentrate to a teachable teacher, who was explaining to all the time in a class. Hope that I’ll be better understanding STEM and comfortable to discuss or explaining to classmates. 

Full Article about Simple Machine, Continue reading…?

MATH

        Conflict subject is always a useful language in a conflict circumstance in life. One round to another round, math increase speed so much, from easy to extremely difficult level, and that is how math is working in my math group. I’m an unfortunate person who still keeps continuing to another next level as I can without another contradictory opinion about math. This round, math facilitator taught us about prealgebra chapter but I’m already prep myself to go far in the depth of algebra world. In class, I felt confident and sure about what my teacher has taught me to discuss with another person or even explaining my friends when they need help.                                             

In group work, I   always shared my knowledge with them and work as a  team very well with fantastic collaboration. On the other hands, challenge always shown up for me but I never give up on math, since I really fascinated and how cool it is? Even though is struggle process, I still crawl to catch that opportunity for myself and show my teacher that I can do it!! The following year is a serious year ever to accomplish because I’ll be a senior next year, I hope to become a knowledgable math learner.