Sopheap Chak

Riding the wave of change in Cambodia

Category: Personal (page 1 of 6)

Turning 30: My Thirtieth Birthday Celebration  

I got a dream when I turned ten: I wanted to be a doctor. It was just imagination but I wanted to be a famous doctor in Cambodia and if possible in the world to cure poor people. As I am a left-handed person, I wished that I could use this left hand to cure people effectively.

Then my dream changed. When I turned twenty I started an internship with a civil society organization. This was the pathway that totally changed my vision. Ten years later, I am obsessed with civil society work and social media platforms, and I have realized that this is who I want to be, not the doctor I had dreamt to become.

However, putting my life-path back to the intersection where I turned my back to a medical doctor career, probably other scenario could have happened. I might have been satisfied with myself or not, but I keep joking about that: probably those who know me now would have been my clients for medical service, or maybe we would have not met in this life-path.

At the end of this month, I will turn 30—an age when you could feel that you are getting old, but I would say the age when “I grow up.” My dream has not really changed. As quoted by Banyan Blog:

As a child, she once dreamed of being a doctor, to serve the poor, but now her dream is to help create a freer, more open and just Cambodia.

I now have a wish to celebrate my 30th birthday: that you all join my cause to empower others to grow up. In 2014, I launched with the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) the pilot “Empowering Cloghers Project”. Through the microgrant support from the Global Voice Online we strengthened the online presence and influence of female university students from rural Cambodia by enabling them to become Cloghers– and to become active online. Cloghers are Cambodian bloggers – locally known as “cloggers” – who are women, thus “cloghers”. My wish is to empower 30 more cloghers and I would like to see my friends to be active citizens and to join my cause by contributing to support this idea. We need to collect roughly US$3000.

I will start collecting my birthday gift from now until 30th March when I will really turn 30. Gift me with three numbered—which could be $3 or $30 or more—for “My Thirtieth Birthday Celebration”!

Your gift will be properly collected, recorded and managed with transparency and accountability. Click here to gift me.

Alternatively, please contact me via for any inquiry about this cause or way of donation.


Things impress me in Sweden

One thing that many of us may aware about Sweden is the Nobel Prize—known as the legacy of Sweden’s Alfred Nobel (1833–1896). However, after my second trip, I have more to tell than the impression I made during my first trip and I hope this will reflect to Cambodian context where we could learn.

Educating children is a key

There are things similar to Japan where school children are taught to interact and expose to outside community aside their school boundary. During my visit to Royal Palace—when the changing of the guard pirate were to show off—a middle age man shouted to the crowd where I was standing behind: Could you please move a bit and let kids stay in front? I then saw a group of roughly 20 kids walked into the crowd. Some tourists were not happy to let so many kids occupied their space, while many were smiling to see so many kids in queue and of course they were willing to let kids in as this is morally right thing to do. Kids were actively observed and discussing among each other on the performance and I believe this would be later discussed in their class of their visit. I was impressed at how schoolteachers were spending time with their students and such field-trip mission would let these young kids exposed to real world besides their daily theoretical learning in classroom.

Kids were standing to see pirate of changing guard at Stockholm's Royal Palace (Photo by the Author)

Kids were standing to see pirate of changing guard at Stockholm’s Royal Palace (Photo by the Author)

While I was impressed with such act, I reflected this to my own experience. I could only visit the Cambodia’s royal palace for the first time only when I was in grade 12 (the final year in high school degree) with other few friends as a study reward, meaning not everyone was entitled to such visit led by a teacher. Having said so, it means that such field visit was very limited in school agenda or let’s not hopes to be initiated by schoolteachers who were struggling to earn extra aside their official teaching time to support their low salary.

Despite of this, similar approach to have such field trip for students are seen in some private schools in Cambodia which is good expose but this shall be initiated in public schools too so that every kids would has access and learn from such extra activities and this requires sufficient funding in education program as well as the teacher’s salary.

Another component that I learned from a study visit is the fact that Sweden is already advanced at openness and compulsory to include “sexual rights” as part of their educational curriculum for kids from age 13 to 19 years old. Such educational platform allows students to openly learn the issue around sexual rights but this was believed a step forward to raise kids awareness to different gender identity and sexual orientation so that this would tackle on the discrimination against sexuality. What I gathered from the communication I had with few Cambodians who were also impressed at this openness approach with kids on sexuality in Sweden was that they would be still hesitate, although they well understood the topic, to accept such thing adopted in Cambodia if to reflect from parents’ point of view. They suggested for those including I myself who were trying to get their opinion on matter to wait until these people have our own kids. I could understand their concern with tradition we had been used to and while Cambodia’s education system is not that advance compared to Sweden, but Sweden also experienced similar tradition’s clashes until they could have a smooth transformation. It thus requires us to learn and see what and where we could start from it.

Openness and Engagement with Civil Society

I should not surprised at how openness and closed engagement the government as well as parliamentarians with civil society in Sweden has, yet coming from a country where position does matter, I could not help to impressed with this and think out loud how it be better for Cambodia to learn such positive manner. The city hall did not fail to welcome delegates—mostly from civil society organizations—for the second time of my visit in Sweden where my former visit in the role as blogger. The representative of city hall of Stockholm proudly welcomed guest and introduced the spirit of engagement with civil society regardless political or social background.

Cambodian delegates were greeting by the Deputy Governor of Stockholm's City Hall (Photo by the Author)

Cambodian delegates were greeting by the Deputy Governor of Stockholm’s City Hall (Photo by the Author)

The representative also brought us to visit the important building of the hall and explained the rationales of specific architecture. One thing that impressed me is the city hall’s Council Chamber —a venue where meeting of Stockholm’s city council will be conducted. The design was full of openness idea behind as shown with a painting on the cell of the building with sky, star, sun and noon to represent that the meeting of the member will be conducted in an open space where public can see their conduct and any discussion shall be made public as they are now practicing with live streaming and opening access to media and public observation.

Chamber of city hall (Photo by the Author)

Chamber of city hall (Photo by the Author)

We were also welcomed by representative of parliamentary at the parliament in which I am sure such practice would be rare in Cambodia.

I acknowledge these are the positive side of Sweden that I had exposed during two visits (I spent roughly a week per visit), so this is not to conclude the whole picture of Sweden as any place shall has its shortcoming and to the extend when the local resident would have more to say about their own country.

ហ៊ានសុបិន្ត និងហ៊ានផ្លាស់ប្តូរ (Dare to Dream and Dare to Change)

(The English version is available after the Khmer text)

បន្ទាប់ពីលទ្ធផលប្រលងបាក់ឌុបត្រូវបានប្រកាសរួចរាល់ហើយនោះ សិស្សានុសិស្ស​នឹងកំពុង​ស្វែងយល់ពីដំណើរផ្លូវឆ្ពោះទៅអនាគតរបស់ខ្លួនជាក់ជាមិនខាន។ អាស្រ័យហេតុនេះហើយ ខ្ញុំសូមចូលរួមចែករំលែកនូវបទពិសោធន៍ជីវិតផ្ទាល់ខ្លួនជូនដល់ប្អូនៗសម្រាប់ពិចារណា៖

ទស្សនរបស់ខ្ញុំ៖ ហ៊ានសុបិន្ត និងហ៊ានផ្លាស់ប្តូរ

Your life pathway can be blur yet you have to move on to the direction you are envisioned. (Photo by the author in 2013 at Rubber Plantation in Kampong Cham Pronvince). (cc-2013, Sopheap Chak)

Your life pathway can be blur yet you have to move on to the direction you are envisioned. (Photo by the author in 2013 at Rubber Plantation in Kampong Cham Pronvince). (cc-2013, Sopheap Chak)

ខ្ញុំធ្លាប់មានសុបិន្តតាំងពីវ័យកុមារអាយុប្រហែលជា ៣ ឆ្នាំថា ចង់ក្លាយខ្លួនជា​វេជ្ជបណ្ឌិតដែលប្រើប្រាស់ដៃឆ្វេងដ៏ល្បីល្បាញមួយរូប ដើម្បី​ព្យាបាល​ពលរដ្ឋ​ក្រីក្រ។  ដោយសារ​តែ​ខ្ញុំជាអ្នកសរសេរដៃឆ្វេង ខ្ញុំតែងមានទស្សនវិស័យបែបនេះ ហើយ​ខ្ញុំរៀនពូកែខាង​ជីវសាស្ត្រ តែខ្ញុំមិនបានត្រៀមលក្ខណៈគ្រប់គ្រាន់ដើម្បីប្រលូកក្នុងវិស័យនេះទេ ដោយសារ​ខ្ញុំ​ពុំមាន​សាច់ញាតិ​ដែលប្រកបអាជីពខាងវេជ្ជសាស្រ្ត ហើយក៏គ្មានអ្នកផ្តល់ប្រឹក្សាថាត្រូវសិក្សា​ភាសារ​បារាំងពី ក្មេងដើម្បីអាចប្រលងជាប់សាលាពេទ្រនោះដែរ។ ពេលវេលាមួយនោះបាន​ចូល​មកដល់​ ហើយ​ខ្ញុំបានប្រឡងជាប់ខាងសាលាមធ្យមវេជ្ជសាស្ត្រ​ ដោយសមត្ថភាពរបស់​ខ្ញុំផ្ទាល់ (ដែលខ្ញុំពោលបែបនេះ ដោយសារសម័យនោះគឺភាគច្រើន​កាអី​ដែល​ជាប់​នោះ​ត្រូវ​បាន​គេ​ទិញ/សូករួច​បាត់ទៅហើយ) ​តែ​មិន​បាន​ជាប់​នៅ​សកល​វិទ្យាល័យ​​សុខាភិបាលនោះទេ។​

ឳពុកម្តាយរបស់ខ្ញុំបានផ្តល់យោបល់ថា ប្រសិនបើខ្ញុំនឹងប្រលូកក្នុងវិស័យនេះ នោះនឹងត្រូវចំណាយពេលវលាច្រើន​(ប្រហែល​ដល់​ទៅ​ ១០ ឆ្នាំ​ដែល​អាច​នឹង​ក្លាយ​ជា​វេជ្ជ​បណ្ឌិត​បាន) និងធនធានថិវកាច្រើនណាស់។ ដោយសារតែធនធានមានកម្រិត ខ្ញុំមិនមាន​ជម្រើសនោះឡើយ ក៏ប៉ុន្តែខ្ញុំក៏មិនបានសោកស្តាយអ្វីនោះដែរ ហើយខ្ញុំមានតែត្រូវអរគុណដល់​ឳពុកម្តាយរបស់ខ្ញុំ ដែលបានគាំទ្រ ជួយត្រួសត្រាយផ្លូវ ឲ្យខ្ញុំអាចឈានជើងលើផ្លូវជីវិតរបស់​ខ្ញុំ ​មកដល់ពេលនេះ ដោយខ្ញុំសម្រេចចូលធ្វើកម្មសិក្សាការី ជាមួយអង្គការសង្គមស៊ីវិលមួយ។ នោះ ជាវិថីដែលបានផ្លាស់ប្តូរទស្សនវិស័យរបស់ខ្ញុំទាំងស្រុង​មកដល់ពេលបច្ចុប្បន្ននេះ។ ខ្ញុំ​កំពុងតែរីករាយក្នុងអាជីពរបស់ខ្ញុំជាមួយអង្គការសង្គមស៊ីវិល និងប្រព័ន្ធផ្សព្វផ្សាយសង្គម ហើយ​ខ្ញុំយល់ថា នេះជាខ្ញុំពិតប្រាកដ មិនមែនវេជ្ជបណ្ឌិតដែលខ្ញុំធ្លាប់បានស្រមៃនោះទេ។​

ទោះជាយ៉ាងនេះក្តី នៅពេលដែលខ្ញុំធ្វើការសាកល្បងក្រឡេកមើលទៅវិថីជីវិតខ្ញុំ ត្រង់ចំណុចដែលខ្ញុំត្រូវនឹងអាចជ្រើសរើសអាជីពជាវេជ្ជបណ្ឌិតនោះ ប្រហែលជាខ្សែជីវិតរបស់ខ្ញុំអាចនឹងមានការប្រែប្រួល ហើយខ្ញុំអាចនឹងពេញចិត្តនឹងជីវិតបែបនោះ ឬប្រហែលជាមិនពេញចិត្តក៏ថាបាន ហើយខ្ញុំតែងតែលេងសើចជាមួយក្រុមការងារខ្ញុំថា អ្នកដែលខ្ញុំស្គាល់ពេលនេះ អាចជាអតិថិជនដែលត្រូវការសេវាកម្មពេទ្ររបស់ខ្ញុំ ឬក៏ម្យ៉ាងទៀតនោះ ប្រហែលជាយើងនឹង​មិនអាចស្គាល់គ្នាផងក៏មិនដឹង។​

ខ្ញុំសង្ឃឹមថា បទពិសោធន៍មួយផ្នែកនៃជីវិតរបស់ខ្ញុំនេះ អាចសរបញ្ជាក់ដល់អ្នកគ្រប់គ្នាថា យើងអាចសុបិន្តនូវខ្សែជីវិតរបស់យើងបាន ហើយ​អាចធ្វើឲ្យខ្សែជីវិតនោះក្លាយជាការពិត​ត្រង់ចំណុចណាមួយ ប៉ុន្តែ​ក្នុងករណីដែលសុបិន្តរបស់អ្នកនឹងអាចត្រូវបានផ្លាស់ប្តូរនោះ ចូរអ្នកកុំអស់សង្ឃឹម ក្នុងការបន្តក្តីសុបិន្តរបស់អ្នកឲ្យសោះ។ អ្នកត្រូវហ៊ានបន្តសុបិន្ត​ដោយ​ធ្វើការត្រួតពិនិត្យឡើងវិញ ហើយ​ចាប់ផ្តើមធ្វើឲ្យសុបិន្តផ្សេងៗដទៃទៀតអាច​សម្រេចបាន​។ តើអ្នកណានឹងដឹងបាននោះ ថា​សុបិន្តដែលអ្នកធ្លាប់មានពីមុនមិនមែនជា​សុបិន្តពិតប្រាកដរបស់អ្នកឡើយ ហើយដរាបណាអ្នកអាចធ្វើឲ្យសុបិន្តនោះក្លាយជាការពិត​នោះហើយជាសុបិន្តពិតប្រាកដរបស់អ្នក៕

English Version:

After the recent high school examination result released, the students must be now seeking for their future path, I therefore would like to share a piece of lesson from my personal life with the hope that this can somehow contribute to your food of thought:

My Philosophy: Dare to Dream and Dare to Change

I had a dream since I was 3 years old that I could be a famous left handed doctor to help curing poor people. As I am a left handed writing type of person, I had that vision and I was good in biology yet I was not well prepared to jump into this major as I have no relatives who are doctors nor anyone could advise to study French in younger age. So when time come, I could only manage to pass the nursery examination on my own [referring to the climate that majority seats were already allocated with bribery], not the high level of medical university.

My parents advised me that it would take years (probably up to 10 years) with much financial resource to make my dream realized. With financial resource limited, I have no choice but I did not regret and I must thank my parents for supporting my life path to move on in another lane of dream, which was to start an internship with a civil society organization. It was the pathway that has changed my vision totally up to present time. I am now becoming obsessed with civil society work and social media platform and I have realized this is the real type of me, not the doctor I had dreaming about.

However, putting my life-path back to the intersection where I had turned my way to medical doctor career, probably other scenario would has happened and I may satisfied with myself or maybe not, and I kept making a joke around that probably those who have known me now maybe become one of my clients for medical service or we could not meet in this life-path.

This piece of shared lesson is aimed to prove that anyone of us can dream about our life and could make that dream come true at certain point but although your dream may have changed, do not feel discouraged to stop dreaming. You must continue revisit your dream and make another possible dream realize and who know, probably the dream you used to dream about is not the real dream or unless you make that happen.

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