Writing a Play Depicting an Issue in the Society

We’ve learned so many ethical concepts here at Liger, and we want to have a platform where we can share those ideas with others, especially Cambodians. So this year, we started a mobile theater project, and I was glad to be part of the writing group this round. Our mission is to share with rural Cambodians ideas relating to healthy relationships amongst each other, as well as raising awareness about plastic pollution, marine conservation, and education, through short plays. This term I was part of the team that wrote a play reflecting a problem in the society, particularly body image.

It’s a challenge to create a play regarding sensitive issues, like body image. We want to clearly convey that it is a problem in a way that is not offensive and controversial. In order to do that, we need to be careful about every part of our play by making sure the play is not oversimplified (loosely communicate the problem), does not contain stereotypical characters or inappropriate joke relating to the topics. It is extremely crucial that we keep those things in mind as change agents. We want to raise awareness about a problem, while we avoid turning it into a controversial topic.

AP Biology Lab | How Much Water is in a Model Organism

This year I’m taking Advanced Placement biology class to continue my passion for science. Besides listening to presentations by our facilitator, students also go the opportunity to apply our knowledge through labs.

The first lab we did was relating to water in organisms. Water is in every organism; it makes up approximately 60 to 90 percents of every organism. Water is important for various functions including respiration, metabolism, and homeostasis. The objective was to extract water out of model organisms (fruits and vegetable) and figure out how much water is in that organism. We weren’t given an instruction on how we should … our lab, so we needed to invent our own procedures. My partner and I got carrot as our model organism. Below is the procedure we’ve created for our lab:

“The carrot was washed, dried and weighed three times: the average weight was calculated. To ease the process of blending, the carrot was chopped into small pieces. Then, the carrot was blended until it was ground. The paste was placed into a strainer and was squeezed to extract liquid. Finally, extracted juice was weighed three times and the average weight was calculated.”

Fruits and vegetable scraps and juice

 

The result told us that water made up approximately 45 percents of carrots mass. However, according to the US National Library of Medicine, the amount of water in a carrot is 86 to 89%. Our result was inaccurate because our method was manual so there might be some errors along the way. For instance, there may be parts of carrots that were wasted unnecessarily. Despite the inaccuracy, we can use our data to compare with other organisms that my classmates worked on. For example, we can tell that watermelon contains the most water, while logan contains the least amount of water.

Graph showing percent of water in different organisms, according to our experiment

 

  

Unit Circle | Math

As SAT test date is approaching, I practiced both the math and verbal section frequently. A topic in SAT that I learned was the unit circle. This topic is a foundation to the idea of calculus. I’ll be taking pre-calculus class for the rest of the school year so this will be helpful.

A unit circle is a circle with the radius of 1. This circle helps us understand and calculate the angles and lengths of special triangles — 30-60-90 and 45-45-90 triangles. In other words, the unit circle is made up of special triangles.

Below is a drawing I made that explain unit circle.

Unit Circle with 30-60-90 triangle
Unit Circle with 45-45-90 triangle

 

 

Why I Want to be a Part of Liger Edge?

This year, Liger initiated its own online school newspaper — Liger Edge. The goal is to keep track of and share with the world the abundant activities we do at Liger. The articles come in dual language and will help communicate opinions and experiences we have to create discussion.

I was chosen to be the English editor in chief. Being in this role, I hope to learn more about my classmates writing style and help improve their writing skills as necessary. Additionally, the reason I want to be part of the school newspaper is that I want to spread my love of reading and writing. I believe that people would love reading if they can find something that would interest them. In a similar way, I also want to give a voice to and project the beauty of Cambodia through my articles.

My first article was about the International Vulture Awareness Day, which happened on the 1st of September. Below is an excerpt from my article:

Saturday, September 1st marked this year’s International Vulture Awareness Day. The intention of the day was to communicate information about vulture conservation to a greater audience and spotlight the important works done by vulture conservationists worldwide. Opportunely, two organizations in Cambodia participated in the celebration of this event by sharing their work as conservationists in Cambodia.

Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity took the opportunity of this day to inform Cambodians through the popular social media platform Facebook about the “destructive consequences of using poison for hunting in attempt to encourage local hunters to abandon this practice.” The post came along with a 3-minute video discussing the decline of vultures due to hunters’ practices and what this means for us, humans.

Photo from BirdLife International Cambodia Programme

Being the Youngest Attendee at the 5th International Marine Conservation Congress

From the 24th to the 29th of June, I attended the 5th International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC5) in Kuching, Malaysia. It was the first time for me to attend an international and professional conference. This was an opportunity to explore marine conservation across the world as young conservationists, as well as allow the world to know what Cambodia is doing in term of marine conservation, particularly the Liger Marine Research Team. 

Initially, it was intimidating to be in the same area with hundreds of scientists, conservationists and Ph.D. students from across the world. However, once we got to talk to them a little, they seemed to be very open and wanted to talk to us more about what we do. It was amazing to meet people from different backgrounds working towards the same goal.

Meeting Dr. Andrew Thaler while he was at the Make for the Planet Workshop

The conference consisted of many sessions and presentations about many topics ranging from marine protected areas to marine mammals to technology in conservation. I was mostly drawn to the presentation regarding marine protected areas (MPAs).  The Sustainable Development Goal and Aichi target have the intention to have at least 10% of our ocean protected by 2020. This topic is becoming more important than ever in Cambodia. We now have two newly established MFMAs (a type of MPA), and more are in the plan.  This is why it is important for us to know where the world is in term of MPAs and how we can contribute to achieving this global goal. 

Presenting at the poster session

Besides learning from those presenters, we got the opportunity to inform more experienced conservationists about the work we are doing in Cambodia. We had a poster presentation on our monitoring of the artificial reef, which is part of the MPA in Koh Seh. It was delightful to get so many compliments about our project from very experienced people that we admire. 

I found this opportunity really worthwhile because we got to make many connections with people that can help us with our projects. In addition, I felt that I’ve projected a little more voice for Cambodia ocean so that more people across the world know about it. I think it is very significant to have events like this where people from different cultures and backgrounds can share their work and walk closer together to achieve one common goal: to “make marine science matter.”

Dengue Fever Exploration | Writing Risk Analysis on Dengue Fever Outbreak

Dengue fever cases in Cambodia increased by 30% in the first three weeks of the year. A dengue fever outbreak occurs every 4 to 5 years. The last outbreak in Cambodia was in 2012, and it was expected that an outbreak would happen in 2017, according to Phnom Penh Post. However, there wasn’t an outbreak last year, so it’s assumed that it will happen this year. 

Dengue virus vectors, Aedes Egypti, mainly are found in urban areas, where they’re highly populated. In these areas, standing water containers and water storage such as flower vases, tanks and jars are commonly found and can be breeding ground for Aedes Egypti.

The information above has led us to do a risk analysis on dengue fever outbreak. We asked the villagers from two communities  Chompous Kaek and Koh Krobey ‒ questions related to their knowledge on dengue fever and prevention behavior. We also did observations to determine the presence of mosquito larvae.  We used this information to assess relationships between variables such as knowledge, prevention behavior, and perceived risk. 

  • Visiting WHO to get more information about Dengue Fever in Cambodia

The final report is a potential resource for the Ministry of Health and World Health Organization based in Cambodia to identify the risk of dengue fever in areas like Chompous Kaek and Koh Krobey. It’s also helpful for the villagers in a way that it will bring their needs to the attention of those institutions. For example, larvicide, Abate, hasn’t been given to the villagers for years, and many are requesting for it. 

Below is a section of the report that I’ve worked on.

Many people have some knowledge about dengue fever and are taking some actions to prevent mosquitoes from biting and breeding, but statistical analysis shows no evidence of an association between the two variables. In other words, none of the prevention behaviors are influenced by the knowledge people already have about dengue fever. Additionally, this particular finding is aligned with the result from the study on “Dengue knowledge, attitudes and practices and their impact on community-based vector control in rural Cambodia.”

In this observational study, there may be errors presented in this survey, such as response bias. For instance, people might most likely say they clean their water storage frequently, even though they don’t. Also, knowledge may not necessarily determine people’s actions; it is possible they can know something but not apply their knowledge to real life. By this means, we can’t make an appropriate conclusion about any causal relationship.

As mentioned above, villagers did exhibit some prevention behaviors against dengue fever; however, these behaviors were relegated to a few methods to prevent mosquitoes from biting and breeding. In addition, only about 30% of the people we surveyed have attended some forms of educational campaign related to dengue fever. This means those people would benefit from an awareness campaign, educating them more on methods to prevent dengue fever.

2017/2018 Yearly Reflection

My Journey as a Young Conservationist

“The only impossible journey is the one you never begin,” Anthony Robbin

One day before the summer of 2017, my science teacher came into the meeting room, wearing a snorkeling mask and fins — not something someone would do every day. We gave her a bizarre look and knew she was up to something. She explained about an opportunity given by Liger and MCC (Marine Conservation Cambodia) and that the students selected would involve in a long-term marine science project; I knew it was for me.

But one thing halted my excitement: we would be learning to dive. The idea of breathing underwater haunted me like how a fish would feel emerging into the land. It’s unnatural for any human beings to stay underwater and it’s even more abnormal for me. I don’t have a swim gene and couldn’t expect how I would feel while diving.

Anyhow, I knew that my passion for science is greater than my fear of diving.

I neglected my ineptitude in swimming and decided to apply. I was chosen to be one of the eight students involving in the first-ever Liger research team. That was a dream come true.

Before any work is put into the research, I dedicated my time in the summer holiday to learn about diving — spending a few hours each day learning about Boyle’s law, effective breathing pattern and etc. Things that struck me most was the possible injuries we can get underwater: sinus squeeze, mask squeeze, ear squeeze, and lung squeeze. I was terrified of diving already and those things just worsen my fright.

On the 28th of September 2017, the three-year adventure for the Liger Marine Research Team (LMRT) began. We traveled for three hours from Liger to the small port of Kep and continued on the MCC boat to Koh Seh. The wild, one-hour boat ride took me to a place I’ve never seen with people I barely knew.  

After having a welcoming and delicious dinner, Liger, MCC staffs, and volunteers got to introduce ourselves to each other. There were people of all ages, from 18 year-olds to 30-year olds, people from different places and people with different backgrounds. That’s when I figured out we are the youngest and some of the few Cambodians there who would be working on marine research.

The next morning, we had our first dive lesson! Assembling the gears was a puzzle; my hands were shaking while putting the tank, the regulator and buoyancy compensator together. Carrying the massive equipments behind my back, I entered the water and followed my dive instructor. We then descended, and all I could see was the figure of people that dove with me. The water wasn’t that clear and I had to focus on what the instructor was doing. When I had to learn to clear my mask, the instructor introduced water into my mask and I couldn’t blow it out. I choked and instinctively came out of the water. That was one panicked moment. The rest of the dive went well, but it was still very difficult. Anyways, the “panic attack” stopped after a few dives. The next three days were packed with diving courses. It usually takes weeks or months to be a certified diver, but for us, 14 to 16 year-olds, only took four days to complete the course and be certified.

Besides learning to dive, we need to understand the methodology for doing underwater surveys because that’s a great part of our study. The MCC experts walked us through the process and even guided us through a practice survey underwater.

After all the training, we were able to deploy our artificial reef. Our hope for the artificial reef is for it to replenish the species that’s been lost due to illegal fishing activities and stop trawling which will prevent the excessive destruction of organisms.

The block is minuscule in comparison to the immensity of the ocean, but only one month after deployment, we could see our progress. We noticed plenty more fish and species on our second survey than we did during our first survey. We saw zero catfish on our baseline survey and we saw 50 of those the next survey. The progress that has been made in such as short period of time is significant — imagine decades after deployment.

I’m imagining the work we’re doing could lead to restoring the quality of our ocean. I’m imagining our ocean can be like Cabo Pulmo in Mexico: the vast abundance of biodiversity and clear water. This might not happen very soon, but it’s not impossible. We began the journey, so it’s possible.

What I learned more clearly from this experience is that perfection or accomplishment doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and practice. We can think of it as a mango. We can’t pick a green mango from a tree and expect it to be sweet and juicy; it takes more time for the mango to be ripen and gain excellent taste. If we want to see the change, the accomplishment, we have to be patient and know that the effort we put in is worth the change we’ll see in the coming future.

 

The First Ever Khmer Model United Nations

I’ve attended Model United Nations (MUN) a few times, but they were all in English. I believe most MUN conferences across the world are done in English. At Liger, we took it to the next level. The Senior cohort, an our Khmer Facilitator organized the first ever Khmer MUN! We had two general assemblies with two topics in each. The topics in my general assembly related to chemical weapon of mass destruction and internet privacy control, and I was the delegate of France. During the first two weeks, I did research about the position France stands in this two topics. In addition to that, I explained my to my classmates who were new to MUN about what it is and how it goes, and assisted them throughout the researching process. Researching in English already requires skills and doing it in Khmer was even more challenging. There were a lot of times when I needed to translate my research into Khmer in a professional way.

The conference happened on the 23rd of May. Everyone who attended dressed up formally to really simulate the experience. It happened all in Khmer and it was really great to see everyone’s involvement throughout the day; we delivered opening speeches and wrote effective resolutions. Special thanks to out Khmer facilitator who made this happen, and the Khmer staffs who helped us along the way. I couldn’t wish for a better first Khmer MUN!

I think it is very important to have Model United Nations in Khmer. We are the future leaders of our country, and it is crucial we know how to address the world’s problems in Khmer in order to empower our people. I believe that Cambodian students should have the opportunity to do what we did with MUN, and if we can make that happen, it would be a big impact.

LMRT Trip May 24th – 29th

We were back on Koh Seh, probably for the last time of 2018. It was sad to think about that because I’ll miss diving, the work we did and the friendly people there. Anyways, we cherished every moment we had and be as productive as we can during this trip.

Because illegal and destructing fishing continues to happen, sediments in the ocean stirred up and caused bad visibility. This meant we couldn’t do the reef survey to monitor our artificial reef. However, we knew that it continues to restore organisms in the ocean!

To substitute for doing our underwater survey, we kept ourselves busy with other work. One of the work was making another cluster (fish aggregation device).

We also helped out with an official dolphin survey, since we were trained during the last trip. It was another new experience and made us realized we are not only there for doing reef surveys. 

We also used our time there to prepare for the conference we’ll be attending at the end of June. We got the privilege to attend the 5th International Marine Conservation Congress in Kuching, Malaysia! There will be conservationists and marine biologists from all around the world coming to one place to discuss marine conservation. We believe we’ll be the youngest attendees there! We put all our effort into getting ready to represent Cambodia’s ocean, Liger and ourselves at the conference.

Set Design | Designing Costumes for the First Time

This year in June, Liger hosted a play for the first time! The play was called the Network; it is about the impact social media or the internet has on humans. I was part of the set design team and worked on designing the costumes. Since I’ve never worked with fashion before, I didn’t know much about costume designing and learned more about it along the process.

My teammates and I looked closely at the characters’ personalities and designed their outfits accordingly. We used Pinterests and Google images as inspirations. We collected pictures of many outfits for each character and elaborate on those ideas. To be honest, I wasn’t really good at drawing, so sometimes I used words to describe my ideas. By the end of the Exploration, we had plans for the characters’ outfits, but since we didn’t know the casts of the play, we couldn’t actually make them yet.

Collection of inspiration

Through this experience, I learned that costume designing includes skills beyond creativity. It requires organization and persistence; we needed to be organized with the ideas we collected and be persistent in finding more inspiration until we find the right costume.