A Tour at the Traumatic S-21

 

A high school, where education sparked, had been turned into a brutal place that killed 14,000 thousand intellectuals. 

Toul Svay Prey was the name of the high school. In 1976, the Khmer Rouge mad it the prison S-21. People from many backgrounds, such as doctors, artists, lawyers and even foreigners, entered this harsh site, and only seven survived. Those innocent citizens were punished by the worst mediums we can think of. Their wrists were locked in place and they were beaten until the young soldiers got the answers they want during interrogations. 

I’ve learned about the Khmer Rouge genocide and have heard many tragic stories, and going to the S-21 genocide museum was a very powerful experience that compliments my knowledge about the event. 

I toured the museum with a quality audio device, which made the experience even more memorable.  The buildings looked like typical Cambodia high school buildings, but the tools and the voice of the man in Khmer painted a picture of cruelty and tragic that the victims went through. Besides the sound, the museum had worked so hard to collect documents and photographs to display. 

In my opinion, and I believe many other’s, S-21 should be a place that every Cambodian student should visit. It’s a place that taught us about an event about devastating even of our history, and we should learn about it to avoid the trauma from occurring again. 

Picture
A classroom that’s turned into the victims torturing bedroom
The classroom had been divided into cells for the victims

 

In the middle of the museum, there’s a memorial place where all the victims’ names are written down on the marble tops

Source: http://www.killingfieldsmuseum.com/s21-victims.html

 

Gender Summit 2018

I believe that change can start with a small action, such as conversation. 

On the 27th and 28th of January, my team of 12 hosted an event called Gender Summit for about 100 high school students from both international schools and local schools. The goal was to encourage dialogues regarding gender issues. Our team realized that gender is not a common topic that Cambodian people talk about, so the first step of change is to enforce more dialogues about the issue. 

The event encompassed four main sessions: power, culture, language, and economics. I was a session leader in the latter session. In that section, I introduced the idea of how advertisement influences our thought about gender roles in the society. Companies advertise their products for female and male separately with a few differences, mainly the color along with a description that describes femininity and masculinity. We should take control of ourselves and buy products that we need and like, regardless of who can use it according to the advertisements.

A fun activity that was part of my session was called Atomic Circle. The goal of this activity was sharing with each other about personal ideas on certain statements. An example of a statement is, “all women are naturally better caretakers than men.” Many people agreed that this idea is true because that’s what they’ve seen in the society. What they didn’t realize was that most people have taught girls to be more caring than boys and it seems like this is natural, but it’s not. 

It wasn’t easy preparing a lesson for other people. It wasn’t easy to get them to talk or generate ideas. There are also times when they said something that didn’t seem right to me, even though there are no specific right or wrong ideas on this topic. Sometimes, it’s hard to stop the conversation when people say something that we don’t agree with. What I’ve learned is that if we want to change how people perceive something, we should enforce questions for them to answer (Socratic method), so that they will think about the idea in a different angle. 

Everyone who attend the event on the 27th

 

 

 

LMRT Trip December 7th – 10th

This is the last trip of 2017! As I mentioned before, diving is less scary and more relaxing. During this trip, we practiced being neutrally buoyant and swimming in a proper position. One thing I’ve done better this time is consuming air. I used to breathe 100 bar of air in 30 minutes, but now I can breathe the same amount of air in about 45 minutes. 

I actually did a real survey for my last dive of the year! I did an invertebrate survey, which means counting organisms like urchins, gastropods and etc. There were not much to see since I wasn’t able to look into crevices and under corals and that’s what I need to work on to be successful at doing the survey. One fascinating thing I saw was a nudibranch. I saw the one that looks the same to that in the morning of the same day; it might be the same one.

Doing a survey is really fun because I have the chance to see many organisms closely and it feels good to be able to identify them!

An example of how a nudibranch looks like; this is not the one I saw while doing the survey
Before leaving the island for Phnom Penh

 

 

LMRT Trip November 16th – 19th

On this particular trip, we focused on doing the survey underwater. For the next three years, we’ll be doing underwater surveys, identifying species, for our projects. A key to doing survey underwater is being as slow as possible. We need to swim a speed of 5 meters every 3 minutes. It’s relaxing, but it’s not easy! Swimming at this speed is not typical and we need to focus on everything around us, making sure we see everything. I was too fast the first time we practiced doing it, but by the time I did my last dive of the month, I did a lot better, both with speed and my swimming position.  

Besides diving, I also snorkel when I had free time. It’s crazy to think that a year ago I was struggling with snorkeling and now I’m a diver! Now, I don’t even have to think intensely when snorkeling. 

The more I dive, the less scary diving is to me. I’m imagining back to when I first dive two months ago and it seemed so scary to me. I thought of it as a very intense activity. Now, I’m always excited to go underwater with the equipment on my body and ready to explore the underwater world!

We got really lucky this time to see many seahorses
While snorkeling, the spine of this spiky guy, diadema urchin, poked into my knee!

 

Kampot Writer and Reader Festival

From the 2nd to the 5th of November I attended Kampot Writer and Reader Festival, which had a theme of courage. This year, this event opened an opportunity for young writers to submit stories encompassing the theme of courage. I submitted my short story, Brittle, but unfortunately, it wasn’t awarded in the event. 

During the event, I met a lot of poets, authors, and artists.  I did many activities during those few days, and there were some favorites. One of them was painting a mural with quotes that are related to literature.  Another favorite was writing a story with an idea of “reaching a goal after a moment of darknes,” as part of a session about “My Life as a Fairy Tale.”

  • Listening to master Kong Nai and his son playing Chapei, an iconic musical instrument

Sophie’s World Book Review

Sophie’s World is written by Jostein Gaarder. He is famous for writing books about children’s perspective for young readers. However, Sophie’s World is suitable for different ages. In this book, Sophie turned fifteen during a course taught by a complete stranger to her, who then known to her as Alberto Knox. The book is subtitled as “A Novel About the History of Philosophy,” which Gaarder put together 2000 years of western philosophical thoughts into this thrilling book. Gaarder taught high school philosophers for 11 years, so he knows how to turn this very complicated subject into an understandable language for teenagers, which makes the book even more fascinating. This Norwegian author often wrote each chapter of Sophie’s World focusing on one philosopher with their philosophical projects. Those old philosophers include some famous ones, such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.

Socrates was a philosopher from Athens and is famous for his quote, “One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing.” He is a very ambiguous philosopher because he never wrote a single line about his project, but he had a great influence on European thoughts. People know about his project through Plato’s writing. Plato wrote a lot of Dialogues and he made Socrates as his main character. We are not sure if the words were actually Socrates’s words. Socrates didn’t like to instruct people, instead, he discussed. He liked to listen and ask questions. He started conversations as if he knew nothing. Socrates believed that his conscience told him what’s right, “He who knows what good is will do good.” He was concerned with the universal definition of right and wrong. He conceived that the ability to think what’s right or wrong is in people’s reason and not in society. He also thought that doing the right things make us happy and when we do wrong things we don’t know that it’s wrong since no one would choose to be unhappy.

Plato was a student of Socrates. Plato concerned about the relationship between what is eternal and immutable in nature and society. He believed that everything tangible in nature can change. Those things are made of the materials that can be eroded over time, but they are made of the mold or form that is eternal and immutable. He called this idea. Plato believed that all tangible objects will eventually become a soap bubble because nothing that exists last forever. He has a point that we can’t have true knowledge of things that keep changing. We can only have opinions about. We can only have true knowledge with the things we can understand using our reasons. Everyone has the same reasons, but our senses vary between different people. For example, if we ask thirty people what color is the most beautiful, we’ll get many different answers. If we ask them what 8 times 5 is, they’ll give the same answer, hopefully, because that’s what the reason tells us. Plato found mathematics very interesting because it never changes. In short, Plato divided reality into two regions. One is the world of sense, which we only have incomplete knowledge with because it always changes. Two is the world of ideas, which we can have true knowledge by using our reasons and it is eternal and immutable.

Aristotle is a pupil at Plato’s Academy for almost twenty years. His father is a physician, and therefore he’s interested in nature study. Aristotle was obsessed with the change in nature, nowadays described as a natural process. This philosopher was very different from Plato. Plato used his reason and Aristotle used his senses. Plato wrote poetry and myths, and Aristotle wrote precise encyclopedia. Aristotle thought the opposite from Plato about the ideas. He thought that the idea or form came after the actual form. The idea came from people after seeing the actual thing. Aristotle decided that the reality is made of two things: substance and form. What things are made of is substance and form is the characteristic of each specific thing. He also thought that substance always has the potential to become form. For example, a chicken’s egg would potentially turn into a chicken, but it doesn’t mean that all chicken’s eggs will become chickens. Aristotle also concerned about nature’s scale, so he divided living things into two categories: plants and creatures. Creatures can then be divided into animals and humans. Those categories are distinguished by their characteristics. For instance, living creatures have the ability to perceive the world they’re living in.

Those are just three famous philosophers that were introduced in Sophie’s World. There are more philosophers with amazing projects that made people notice the reality of the world we’re living in.

 

 

Resourceful Trip into PP

To begin the sixth year at Liger, the senior students were divided into teams to learn about being resourceful. One of the main activities for that one week was going into Phnom Penh to complete tasks that a typical adult might have to do. I learned a lot of simple skills that I would’ve not learned if I wasn’t doing that activity. There were times when we need to bargain price, especially when we were negotiating with tuk-tuk drivers. We are living in a world where time is a limited resource, so we need to use it wisely; I learned how to do that during the trip.  As we are growing up, it’s very significant that we understand how to use the resources around us well.

The route we took

MAD Scholarship

There was an opportunity given by our former art teacher for those who are passionate about art. Participants were required to create art pieces related to the theme “The Inner Me.” Two participants that were selected was able to visit Australia. I wasn’t selected, but I’m grateful that I had this opportunity. 

ISWEEEP

On the 27th of January, 2017 I submitted a science paper to an international competition, ISWEEEP. It is a competition that we can work on projects related to energy, engineering and environment, to solve a problem. I’ve worked on a project to make a type of biodegradable styrofoam/packaging, since styrofoam is a hazardous substance for the environment. The project took me a year to work on it. This was a very amazing experience for me to write a 16-page paper. I learned a lot on how to set up any experiments. Along the way, I made a lot of mistakes that would ruin the experiment, which means I had to do it again and again. I always learned from those mistakes, even though it’s a small thing. For example, once I baked my sample all at once, but forget to label it, so I don’t know which one is which experiment. The next time I did it, I make sure that I won’t forget to do any important things. Below is the paper that I wrote, you can check it out to know more about my project.

ThinysISWEEPReport

The 8th ASEAN+3 Student Camp & Teacher Workshop for the Gifted in Science

On January, I got an amazing opportunity to represent Cambodia in The 8th ASEAN+3 Student Camp & Teacher Workshop for the Gifted in Science held in Beijing, China, along with two other friends and a learning facilitator. Under the theme of “Dreamer, Thinker, Maker,” students were divided into teams to design bridges, rockets, soccer robots and 3D printing products. I was in a team to design a bridge with another student from Chinese Taipei. This was a new experience working with someone from another country. It was hard to communicate with him because he doesn’t talk much, and I usually have to ask him for ideas. As a result, my team got a bronze medal. This is the first medal I’ve gotten! 

As part of the science camp, we got tours to many places. The first day, we were toured in the Beijing No.35 High School. This school is huge and fascinating. We also visited Beijing technology and science museum. My favorite place that we visited with the team was the Great Wall of China. 

  • On the plane

After the Science camp has ended, we went to Western Academy Beijing (WAB) to talk to some students there about our experience during the camp and give them presentations about Cambodia and Liger. After that, we got to explore more around Beijing. We got to visit Beijing well-known including Summer Palace, Beihai Park, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven. My favorite place was the Summer Palace because it was quiet and tranquil. There were also beautiful structures. I used to see those type of buildings in movies, but it was amazing to see them in real life. 

Beijing is a very big capital city with great infrastructure and transportation. Even though I heard people said that the traffic in Beijing isn’t great, I think it’s a lot better than Phnom Penh. Currently, Beijing is working on being environmentally friendly, since this city is one of the main contributors to Climate Change and pollution. One thing that they do to be environmentally friendly is installing solar energy to their public bus. I’m hoping to see Phnom Penh be this developed in the near future!