Chainsaw Tree

This year, I was involved in a project called “Chainsaw Tree.” The version is to empower individuals to begin to care about, take action, and advocate for our nature. To succeed in this vision, we have launched a campaign called “Chainsaw Tree.” Before this project, I was a part of another project that was trying to raise the same awareness, reforestation. In that previous project, I was writing a book that scripted the meaning of reforestation through a fictional boy’s life. Due to some unfinished work and as a writer, I ended up at the same project, Chainsaw Tree 2.0. 

The Chainsaw Tree 2.0 exploration planned to host three competitions to move people from thought to action and to spread nature positivity. We wanted people to enjoy nature while participating in our competitions. Therefore, we came up with poetry, photography, and performance competition, where they require to write an original poem, shoot a stunning photo and take a video of a dance performance. Each one of these required the participants to insert the theme of “The beauty of nature” or “The Chainsaw Tree.” While completing these tasks, participants can spend time exploring nature. Moreover, these competitions allowed global citizens to share their thoughts and solutions toward the deforestation crisis in a positive way. While running this campaign, our team believed that we can at least urge humans to care about our forests. 

Before the competitions can be up running, the plans and competition guidelines should be laid out. To accomplish the set tasks, we have divided ourselves into different groups. I was selected to work on a performance competition. In the working process, I have learned two major skills: networking and writing guidelines. On the other hand, I have to keep up with the emails and the information all the time.  From my experience, hosting a competition was a pressure task since we have to be in control at all times. 

This campaign didn’t only contain a few competitions, we also wrote songs. Two of my female teammates were responsible for writing these songs. They once wrote an English song called “If I saved U, I’d saved us,” and a Khmer song called “It’s not too late.” We aimed to push people to start to understand and to care about the importance of nature. Besides, to showcase the richness of the green and what it has been offered to us as human beings. We hoped that these songs can inspire one to love nature and to help nature to recover from the brutal damages. We recognized that trying to spark the impact through adversity was an obstacle during this COVID-19 pandemic. However, we still stood on our grounds because we believed that our action is the lit fire. If we don’t start, then who?!

Despite competitions and songs, there was another task that we have been working on. It’s a book called “The Chainsaw Tree.” The storyline took us seven weeks to be finalized. At first, the plot seemed to be out of place, but as we spent more time discussing, we have come to solidify our storyline and drafted the first version of the book. Although we believed that the texts can be an inspiration for many people, our school director wanted to implement this short novel into an animated movie. Before that can happen, we needed to design a movie pitch for a movie director to evaluate and make a decision, whether it’s possible or not. After many complex processes, it was fruitful. The movie director agreed to find a movie team for our story. I hope that this movie can be brought to life. 

I’m sure that you are wondering “What is The Chainsaw Tree?” Well, the Chainsaw Tree is a sculpture that was constructed by many actual chainsaws. The chains and the saws were once collected from the illegal loggers in Mondulkiri province by the Ministry. Now, our school has requested the government to own those chainsaws to build this Chainsaw Tree. Check out these photos below!

Nature takes over the Chainsaw Tree

To expand the impact, we’ll distribute the short novel to the government schools once it is finally published. In addition to book distribution, we’ll package a set of stickers and painting supplies to go alongside the book. Why? Simply because we wanted 25 government schools in 25 provinces to have the Chainsaw Tree like us. They can use the provided sticker of the Chainsaw tree to stick to the school wall. On top of that, they can use painting supplies to paint the background. This was another portion of our campaign. 

The Chainsaw Tree sticker 

At last, being a part of this project has reinforced me to become a nature advocate and a real changer. After learning this project, I will try to share this education with others so that we can recreate a healthy world together. Working on this project for almost 14 weeks, I felt deeply connected with nature as well as my teammates unlike before. I couldn’t believe that it was one of the most active journeys for me during this unprecedented time. In addition, I have improved myself in so many areas such as working ethic, networking, problem-solving, and designing. I’ve really appreciated the opportunity.

Let’s create a better future together. “Save the Earth, it’s our only home.”

Child Development

Growing up in a suburban area in Cambodia, access to education like understanding child development is still limited. Although the government school that I used to go to has provided education like social study, I wasn’t exposed to a deeper explanation of this kind of topic. As a result, I didn’t have enough education in this area to be able to further share my knowledge or deeply discuss it among others. Despite the inaccessibility, I now received an opportunity to join a project called “Child Development in Cambodia.” It was a chance for me to learn new information that I haven’t studied before about children.

This project aimed to shed impact on children as well as rural Cambodian parents. That being said, our ambition is to share our research about child development with parents to further strengthen their knowledge of how to raise children properly. 

Once we stepped into the project, we noticed that the topic itself seemed a little too broad. In this case, we have made a conclusion that each of the team members will be researching independently according to the sub-topics that we were interested in. My teammates have different interests, so they made my job easier to choose my research topic, where it won’t be overlapped. The topic that I chose to research was “Child Nutrition in Cambodia.” Frankly, I have never researched this topic before, so it was pretty new to me. I discovered a lot about nutrition statistics in Cambodia. A bunch of them was prettying astonishing and depressing. Here are some statistics that I have found during the research,

“One in three Cambodian children under 5 years of age are stunted. 32% of children are stunted, 24% are underweight, and 10% are wasted. This is a very high prevalence of malnutrition, and reveals an equity gap in Cambodia with stunting being more common in rural areas (34%) than urban areas (24%) and is less common among the children of more educated mothers.” 

These facts demonstrate that we need to fill in the gaps so that we can push the number to its minimum. This is another reason why this project existed. 

After the researching process,  It all came down to the designing process. During this process, I learned a lot more about the Canva website. It’s a platform where designers can create their own visuals. There were four topics that I have been researching for the past seven weeks. The topics were: 

1. General statistic about children nutrition in Cambodia

2. Factors that hinder children from physical growth

3. Common signs of children with malnutrition

4. How to get your children to eat more vegetables

After everything has been laid out and written, my job was to cluster the information (figure above) into a PDF file where people can scroll through it. I have spent almost four weeks designing. It was easy, yet challenging since I need to redesign it over and over according to my facilitator’s comments. 


Explore more about Child Nutrition Research (Click here!)

In short, I have gathered so much knowledge from this project. From researching to designing, I have learned so many techniques along the way, especially related to designing graphics. Honestly, this project was the only one that actually required me to work solely. I used to work on a project where we were working toward the same goal, however, this project was a whole new experience for me. Being in this project, I have helped myself understand more about children, and I also have helped a few Cambodian parents to understand some new information about children.

Impact Statement

The final round of the Business Model Competition (BMC) was held on February 22, 2021, at CJCC, Phnom Penh city. This competition used to be open only to university students. Therefore, I wasn’t surprised by the fact that university students were filling the room, and only fewer high school students were there. Around lunch break, my team was presenting our business project to the judges in the final panel. After many presentations have been served to the judges, we anxiously awaited the “top 5 finalists” result. As I approached the panel room, the silence covered the entire space. So, I walked steadily to my group, then took a seat while paying attention to the announcer’s opening remark. My mentor, Keith, was patting my back while I was maintaining my posture. I couldn’t stop thinking about the eyes that were staring at me during my presentation. While I was patiently waiting, I laid my face down to my knees with my leg continuously shaking. Soon the announcer commenced to call upon the teams, I could feel the unfamiliar emotion boiling inside me, the fear of losing. My teammate, Bopha, was gripping my wrist with her voice whispering my name like she was sending hope toward me. As the announcer processed the list of names, I exhaled stiffly, and I would hear my name again called by Bopha. “Calm down,” she whispered a second time. I heard every bit of it, but no sound would come out of my mouth to respond. The hope and faith that have been settled just now, was bubbling in my core like it was about to shatter. I couldn’t ground myself from wanting the announcer to call upon my team. The announcer paused for a second before he called the last team, causing me to feel even more nerve-wracking. 

“MHAO SROP!” he remarked.

“YES!” my voice was echoing, shaking the whole panel. 

I rose from tremendous fear to jumping on my feet with enthusiasm. Though I claimed the victory, I recognized that the failures were the ones who unlocked the gate for me to achieve the impact I wished for. 

As a competitor among many others, failure and success will define my pathway. It’ll prevent me from accelerating if I haven’t yet encountered one of these gateways: failure–success. I acknowledge that “I want to win,” so does everyone else? Thus, I forget that I’m living the same art form as millions of people out there. So, I was tempted to quit when failure arose, or I was tempted to overestimate myself when I succeeded. It appears to me that it’s easy enough to downgrade and customize the failures as the “LOSERS.” Is this the art form we humans are creating? Is that the type of dignity we are adopting? It’s certain people’s personal choices to determine their art form, but for me, I choose to design the type of form that can embrace individuals’ titles and imperfections. 

Through this entire process, I was seeking a possible room to design an art form that highlights the impact. The way I choose to view impact after unfolding my chapters of struggles is that hope and self-faith are leading to a spark of change. Besides, the impact can be broadened by letting myself utilize one’s imperfections as a model. On top of that, overcoming the fear of losing is a factor that contributes to a step of impact. With these qualities, I believe that the impact is more influential–practical, and changes will be positively made. 

April 23, 2021, the BMC Mekong Challenge Competition has arrived. Many countries participated: Laos, Vietnam, Bhutan, Myanmar, and my homeland, Cambodia. All of the teams have different and unique ideas. For my team, our business idea was to create a virtual platform where audiences can enjoy Cambodian authentic performances. By the time our customers purchased our product, we hoped that we could shed light on priceless performing art while helping local artists to earn a stable income. Due to the effect of COVID-19, the patterns of the whole competition have changed, from having to present physically to present virtually. Though we were required to present virtually, my team was fortunate enough to deliver our presentation through a recorded video. However, the pressure and intensity were still high like in the previous times. After the presentation has been delivered, it’s time for the Q & A session. There were many unfamiliar judges this time. As a result, I was astonished by the capacity of irrelevant questions that they asked. My sweat was pouring out like it has not been in years. It was the wildest 20 minutes I have ever experienced. Soon, I left the zoom call, multiple notifications were banning my phone like it was about to crack my phone audio. I received warm messages from my mentor, however, I didn’t feel any of it. The regret and mistakes made us have a long conversation after that. A few hours went by, it was close to midnight, Bopha called me. I normally picked up and greeted each other as brother and sister would do. This time, it seemed to be unusual, her tone was rough. 

“Bong Heng! We didn’t win,” she finally shrieked. 

I froze for a whole minute like an arrow just shot me directly to the heart. Why? Why? My soul just betrayed me, leaving only the unconscious mind for a second. 

Even though I couldn’t repossess my full energy, I learned that failure was just a time frame for me to progress my growth. I couldn’t be more disappointed because “Suffering is probably necessary to make us grow,” Pamela Weintraub once stated. In addition, skills and lessons such as networking, presenting, and managing are worth carrying away, instead of the only victory. On the other hand, my teammates have assisted me all along regarding a downfall moment. I’m beyond appreciative that they also helped me to mirror myself, especially when I constantly compare myself to others. It was the journey that I would always value and remember for the rest of my life. 

Several days have passed, I have begun to overcome my fear of losing by regrowing new hope and self-faith. It wasn’t the most comfortable task to accomplish, I would say, but I have tried to help myself gain hope and self-belief for the sake of my growth. You shouldn’t expect change to be easy because it has never been so. Put yourself in the position of discomfort, it’ll certainly pay off.

My perception and perspective toward impact have changed over a few weeks after the Mekong Challenge Competition ended. I used to believe that impact exists when the green light appears. However, the competition proved me wrong, impact can still shift even if there is a red light. All I need to input is just hope and self-faith. Failure in and of itself is the foundation of what it means to be successful in the future. What I have learned from failure has shaped me into a person who is increasingly hopeful, faithful, and confident regardless of any circumstance. 

Competition overall is just a place for me to master my weaknesses and bridge my missing gaps. It’s a space that requires me to collect as much knowledge as I possibly can to fill in my bucket for my following journey. Before I could firmly stand on the peak of the mountain of change, I needed to confront the red lights that were being lit up in front of my face. Although the paths beneath were more likely to always be red, each red light is a gift and lesson that one must learn for the green light to shine bright. Since the project ended, I have come to believe that the force of hope, faith, and failure is the source of energy to climb up the summit of the mountain of change.  

After this never-ending expedition, I came across a life-changing mountain that required a passionate hope and faith for impact to ignite. In addition, confidence is a major supplier to reach the peak, and it’ll help to fuel the climber to continue conquering the rough paths. All in all, don’t let imperfection or failure distract you from creating impact or the art form you are dreaming of. Wear your confidence, spread your beliefs, don’t quit until you see the green light. Keep climbing and keep climbing.

Spider-man | Physics

Spider-Man’s superpower: he’s capable of swinging and jumping from place to place quickly by utilizing his designed web-shooters. His sticky feet–hands allow him to climb and jump any surface; he also can intellectually sense the danger. Spider-Man can swing because of the powerful strength and elasticity from his designed web. That strength is………

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Skin | Personal narrative


The smell of burning grass memorably brought me back to a moment when I insanely ran and joked around with my friends until dawn. I could still picture the dazzling silhouette of Areca-nut trees in the evening that I used to enjoy viewing. I didn’t know why the burning smoke helped me to recall my countless memories after 12 years of childhood. But, I surely remembered the chirping harmony from birds and the smell of tropical rain during Cambodia’s rainy season. It was usually a terrific time for me to ski on the dirt with my barefoot out in the cold rain with my neighbors. At this mid-year, Areca-nut trees would blossom and offer their first fruits. Another flashy memory I remembered was attending my sister’s wedding day with many red bumps that nobody could simply notice. Since that blissful moment, I turned seventh grade. I was old enough to be recognized as a teen, but perhaps more like a man. A teen or a man like me back then, my neighbors would call “Pehn Komlos,” “A grown man.” Particularly, my skin condition seemed to notify my mother that I was matured, and neither did others. If she knew I was being reluctant and lazy to lift my hand to work, she would definitely pick on my acne. 

“You are a grown-up, look at your face!” she continued without letting me respond to earlier statements.

“Behave maturely! Aren’t you a seventh-grader?” She mixed her speech into questioning advice. 

God! Can you let me talk? And, what’s wrong with my playful personality? Why does she always refer to my skin as a subject matter? Just let me be me…

My parents had me when my sister was about 10 years old, and my brother was a running kid. My sister Siguek, wasn’t really into playing around with me, neither was my brother Tek. 

“You are annoying! Get out!” they would say, then I cursed them like a fool.

One day we were out in the warm sun, my brother was picking up the nuts with my sister holding the bucket ready to collect them. But, I stood in an annoying posture apart from them waiting to collect it once it fell. After collecting a few buckets of nuts, I breathed heavily without sensing my mother was intensely staring at my moody face. She wore her usual sarong (skirt) with a light pink t-shirt and kroma (khmer scarf) wrapped around her head. As I let out a sign for the second time, she busted out of temper and cursed me wildly even before I could begin to unfold my excuse. 

“If you don’t want to work, piss off!” she shouted aloud. 

My sweat was dripping down my bitter face when I decided to quit work and let my mother talk to herself.

Under the steamy weather, I still wanted to join a marble game with my friends. So, I did. As the dark fuggy sheet appeared to cover the entire bright sky, we would walk back home with satisfaction after a tireless game. As my sweat poured out, I impatiently scratched my forehead thinking it could reduce the itchiness. I accidentally scratched over my acne. “Ooy!” I shrieked. The sound of me grazing my acne was like I was killing a bug against the floor. I wish these bumps disappeared already. Isn’t this weather that caused these bumps to pop all over my entire forehead? Owww! How can I cure this, if I don’t have any facial cream? 

I rushed into a shower before making myself appear in front of a glossy mirror. I exhaled deeply before leaning my face directly into the glass. As my eyes captured the details, my tears dramatically creeped out, the glass turned blurry as my mind sank into unsolvable anxiety. My left hand firmly held a flashlight, while I couldn’t resist my other hand from touching the bumps. How much more time do I have to carry these all around? The silence during which I couldn’t stop glaring at my reflection would present how depressed I was inside. It gradually destroyed my internal confidence, then cemented the outside with shyness and insecurity. I was slowly afraid to walk into my friends during the conversation, I couldn’t fit in. Heart pounding, I fearfully quitted my worst reality each minute passed and daily activities: biking and chatting with my neighbors. I don’t need any investigation on my face if I were to walk into them. Their opinions affected me more than I expected. 

I was raised by my Khmer traditional parents, so it wasn’t a surprise that natural treatment is for everything. I once heard about natural healing by masking the banana and turmeric. If there are any other methods, I will try them with no doubts. I just want to get rid of this as soon as I can. If it was gone, maybe my mind would uncage my security, if so I would walk like a flawless supermodel. I tried to mask my face with a banana before applying turmeric watery cream. I chilled on a hammock watching my parent’s old Sony television since I just placed a banana in the fridge a minute ago. 10 minutes went by, I took it out, I commenced to peel the crust and gently chopped it into thinner slices. After another long wait, I rinsed off the banana mask. As I lifted my hand to pick up the turmeric watery cream, I could hear my mother insulting me about what I was doing. 

“It’ll be gone once you are 18 years old! Don’t pop it! Just leave it there!” she shouted from the kitchen. 

A patient week has passed, it didn’t result in a huge difference instead of the redness even brighter up my face. I couldn’t calm myself from cursing out loud to the mirror because it didn’t improve my skin even a bit. I didn’t trust any other treatment or product until…

After a break from school, I finally got home. I loved to sit alone and let my imagination rule my soul. My mind just floated in the air as I stared at the moving clouds. While chilling typically on a hammock with my floating imagination, I heard my sister’s voice echoing from my back.  

“Do you want to try a facial cream?” my sister asked while walking toward me.

“YES!” I immediately responded. 

“Cream?” I sounded uncertain. 

“DW cream! I used to use it. TRY!”

“How much is it?”

“$10,” she sounded so exact. 

Without further question, I agreed to examine my skin for the second time. After an agreement, she drives to a shop by my father’s motor. I was hoping it would heal my mental and physical pain as she was handing me the creams that she bought from the shop earlier. 

“Here! The cream! It comes in a set of two mini jars. One is for AM and another for PM,” She said.

I excitedly opened an AM jar, the smell of U-90 paint was vibrating as I sniffed for the first time. It was terrible after a few weeks of application. I regretted it tremendously this time like I was on a firecracker due to this unimpressive cream. I couldn’t be more stressed than I already was. I just wasted my $10 on this stupid cream. I hate it!

This holiday was just an excellent time for me to quit my worst reality. I didn’t have to wear a smile when walking past my friends at school with this face, especially the two that used to comment touchingly on my acne. As the holiday was shortened, I was nerve-wracking thinking about returning back to the school campus. Covid-19 alerted, everyone remained home, so did I. I breathed out as a sign of release after reading the news on my school director’s post. Now, I could at least run and bike openly as I desired. Although escaping from two friends who used to throw words at my acne, yet, I couldn’t escape from my neighbors. The next day…

 A girl about 12 years old came up to me with her salty words that I never believed that it was her. 

“Why do you have acne all over your face?” this little girl remarked with her toxic face. 

“Emmm, I don’t know!” I responded carelessly while doing work on my personal desktop. 

I sat on a red chair in her house doing my school work as usual. I was there just to access the internet every day since my home didn’t have access to Wifi. 

“Look at your face. That is like the bumpiest road I have ever seen. Your skin texture is like deep-fried crispy rice,” she insulted me out of the blue, then crazily laughed at her own words.  

I sat there with my earphone plugged to both ears and pretended not to notice. I almost let out my anger while my teeth were clenching. My face turned real hot as I repeated her words in my mind. The air rushing out from my nose was about to explode as I breathed rapidly. I couldn’t maintain my posture until I completed my school work. I left her house like I wouldn’t want to enter ever again. It was the third embarrassing moment that I have endured. I was numb by the sharpness of the words that just struck me a moment ago. 

After encountering such unexpected words from a neighbor and failing to cure my skin. I was overthinking about it until late at night. 

“Sokheng, It’s dinner time!” my mother walked to me while tucking her sarong.

Not even a word coming out of my mouth to answer her phrase, I walked steadily toward the dinner table. I lowered my head, then I just ate the food. I couldn’t taste the flavor besides numbness. Just a few bites, I quitted the conversation and finished my unflavoured dinner. 

I grabbed my phone and threw myself into the hammock as usual. I clicked on a Safari app on my crappy iPhone six plus and soon began to type on the mini keyboards with my unalive fingers. “What is the best treatment for acne?” I hit the enter button. Countless websites just popped up and ready for me to explore. I browsed many websites until I spotted an attractive one called “The Ordinary.” I smiled while I was scanning the details of the product. Now, I could heal my face with these two bottles of acid called, “Niacinamide 10% Zinc 1% and AHA 30% BHA 2%.” After discovering this product, I often left my house to bike around. Although I wasn’t socially active, I felt like smiling again. By the help of these skincare websites–videos, it helped me to treat and take care of my skin in a healthier way than before. It was like my lifesaver. I have never focused on such things as this information. I was on my phone while everyone was enjoying themselves with dinner, except my mother.  

“You shouldn’t eat too many oily snacks and foods,” she walked from our dining table. 

“Be more sensitive to your diet, especially don’t go for Brohok (fermented fish) or spicy foods,” she passionately added. 

I love you, mom. I thought she was going to scold me again, seeing me laughing and smiling alone in front of my phone screen. Her advice this time seemed like a real one and a caring one. The one that I had been waiting for. I nodded my head with a giggling smile, while she made her way out.

I have never thought that my mother had a sweet spot for me. Did I just earn her love? I just received some caring advice. That night, I was the luckiest teen or man who ever existed in this world. Her words kept me scrolling through my previous memories; my mind just floated into the thin air. Love wasn’t far, love and support can be earned from the closest one, like my mother. Besides, adapting to my own beauty was another way for me to claim back my smile and confidence. Though it’s a struggle for me to reveal my face, I learned that I can’t live my life peacefully if I am constantly concerned about other personal opinions toward my face. So, I have come to a point where I need to just let the world see my beauty, and I don’t really care about these bumps as well as the comments anymore. 

The smile was still on as I clicked on the Youtube app looking for a drama series before going to bed. I turned the volume on as I plugged in my earphone listening to the intro music of the series. I watched until my eyes couldn’t bear the brightening light on my screen anymore. Soon I finished it before it ended by itself, I headed to charge my phone while yawning almost a million times. By the time I got my head on a pillow, I totally looked like a dead bear on a mattress.

TED Talk | “We Need to Talk about an Injustice,” By Bryan Stevenson

“We cannot be full, evolved human beings until we care about human rights and basic dignity.” According to the powerful TED talk from an American lawyer, activist, and author of  “Just Mercy,” speaker Bryan Stevenson projected his message of the great inequality in the country to the audience by clearly mentioning the responsibility for improving the society is on “US.” On top of that, he thoroughly presented the hopelessness in the poor communities and communities of color, and he stated the injustice as well as the unbalanced right that these communities have endured. Mr. Stevenson called the audience to action in changing society to become a welcoming home through the method of “Pathos and Logos,” delivering his tone in a calm but demanding voice.                   

Mr. Stevenson started to open the door to “Injustice” earlier in the talk that“Our system isn’t just being shaped in these ways that seem to be distorting around race, they’re also distorted by poverty. We have a system of justice in this country that treats you much better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent,” this is painting an upsetting image of the communities of color and the poor. Furthermore, his bold tone on the last phrase “treats you much better if you’re rich and guilty,” helps the audience to feel more empathetic towards the poor. Thus, he urged the audiences/leaders to stand up and advocate for them or those who don’t have the privilege/voice to withstand themselves in the court/society among others. Moreover, this fact helps the audiences to feel the burden of injustice while experiencing the feeling of anxiousness/sorrow of the unfairness in the society that these communities have to deal with. 

In addition to utilizing the “Pathos,” he also managed to use an impactful usage of “Logos”’ to evoke his audiences to feel the “Pain.” The somber emotions from the use of “Pathos” helps to strengthen the factual evidence that he is conveying, while striking to the core of the audiences’ hearts to form sympathetic emotion toward the communities of color and the poor.

This fearless speaker continued to clear the dust off the forgotten/judgemental mirror and stated that “My state of Alabama, like a number of states, actually permanently disenfranchises you if you have a criminal conviction. Right now in Alabama, 34 percent of the Black male population has permanently lost the right to vote,” this astonishing fact is transparently communicated to the audiences that people are being disconnected and treated unfairly due to various crimes they committed. This proves that if anyone committed a certain crime, it will result in closure to other opening doors. That being the case, Stevenson challenged the audiences to be aware of this issue, but essentially urged them to act for equality and create hope for the condemned and the poor. 

Mr. Stevenson strongly emphasized that “In urban communities across this country — Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington — 50 to 60 percent of all young men of color are in jail or prison or on probation or parole,” this profound statistic clearly shows a lack of empathy, knowledge of understanding, investigation, and consideration, which results in unfairness. Furthermore, his disappointing tone started to wake his audiences up to reality and encourage them to use their voice against this never-ending shade. 

To cluster what has been stated above, we can’t construct a welcoming society where there is a bright color of  “Justice, Equality, and Hope” without everyone’s voice and help. “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice; that we cannot be full, evolved human beings until we care about human rights and basic dignity,” as he has demonstrated, “Our humanity depends on everyone’s humanity,” therefore, we need to be conscious, to recognize, and be aware of this issue, and use our voice to help the poor, the communities of color, and “OUR SOCIETY.” We need to commence to comprehend and hear the pain of injustice, unbalanced rights, and racial issues by today.  Mr. Stevenson ended his TEd talk by quoting a considered phrase“keep your eyes on the prize, hold on,” demanding and moving his audience from thoughts to action, and positively pushes them to fight against this barrier together. 

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 someone 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 the 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 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+ 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 the 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 the 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 blissful!

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, 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 it in 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 to continue to express love and care. Call LGTBQIA+ by their names is one of the considerable ways to show your LOVE and RESPECT.


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.