Mohandas Gandhi once stated, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” In our life, we’re having so many goals that we’re headstrong to achieve. Yet, we have to acknowledge that on our way to achieving our goal, we’re going to face problems that we want to see the solution to; and changes that we want to see. If we only keep walking toward our goal and take no action to create the change that we eager to see, there is a great chance that the change will not occur. So as a “change agent,” I have to pause my journey and plant the seed of change that I wish to see. Still, I have to acknowledge that the seed wouldn’t just grow big overnight; it takes time. As a 15-year-old “change agent,” this is how I plant my seeds and be the change I wish to see in the world.
Growing up, I got exposed to so many gender-based stereotypes from my surrounding. Even though it’s not specifically from my parents, but those words are really effective in my early life. For instance, the phrase “Boys should not cry,” has always been an immense threat to my ability to express my feeling. That because people have always define crying as being weak, and so do I. In many tough situations, this phrase acted as a blockage and constrain my tear. Even when I became a Liger student I still struggle to express my feeling because I haven’t exposed to any discussion about this topic yet. Fortunately this year I got the opportunity to be apart of the Gender Equity exploration where I’ve changed my perspective one hundred and eighty degrees. From the first few days of deep questions discussion, “crying is weak” has become a myth and the crying blockage has dissolved. Yet, this is only one facet of the exploration that changed me. In further conversation, we’ve talked a lot about the gender gap how we don’t really want “Gender Equality” instead we want “Gender Equity”. Because with gender equally everybody would have the same opportunity or resources, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will get to the same stage. For example, in the technology field male are already had a huge head start so if we only give women the same opportunity as the man, it would be really hard for them to catch up. But for gender equity, we would give women a little bit more opportunity than the man so that they can catch up easily. From these fruitful discussions, we decided to create an event called gender summit where we invited about a hundred students from 4 schools in Phnom Penh to come together to discuss gender under the theme of “How can we empower change while preserving the culture”. The event was a huge success with both languages: English and Khmer. Moreover, we have created a website as a platform to publish our gender-related articles for the whole the world to see.
After the project, I found out something really different about myself. Every time I open mouth and start speaking, I think about it at least twice before I disperse my words. Every time I hear someone make a sexist joke or say something sexist, I tend to feel uncomfortable, I tend to feel disappointed, and I tend to feel like I really need to speak up. My freedom of speech, I need to speak against the old outdated-mindset; the mindset that only maintains the gender gap. Furthermore, I have an acute willing to fight for gender equity and to empower all men to support women. Finally, I declared myself as a feminine, and I’ll use the independence I have to do anything I can to be the change I wish to see.
Learning at Liger, I have a clear idea of what changes I want to see and a clear vision for my future. Even though I have a clear path to walk, but many more students in my country doesn’t have the skill needed to create their own path as we do. We -Liger student- are able to plant the seed of change because Liger has exposed us to many experiences so that we can set our goal and our vision. For those students whose not in Liger, they never get the chance like we do so they might not even have a goal for their future. In fact, this is not just a problem in Cambodia it is actually a problem for the whole world. Therefore, the International Labor Organization(ILO) work to improve this problem by providing soft skill to students from high schools to colleagues. As a really great opportunity, the Liger Leadership Academy get to be a part of this process. For instance, we help the ILO to make the training more culturally appropriate and help them to enroll in the training to four high schools and three universities in Cambodia. The training is called “Vision Setting and Professional Development” which has a goal to help students – especially girl – to get an idea and set a clear goal for their own development and their future. The module that we’re enrolling will allow them to look deep into their self, create their own path to their future, and develop their own strategy to reach their goals.
With all students having a clear goal for their future and a strategy to achieve them, they will have a successful life which will then allow our country to grow at a really fast rate. If the seeds of gender equality keep growing, I believe that it will turn this country into a country where everybody has the same right, same opportunities, and the same resources regardless of their gender. This is how I change Cambodia, and this is the change I wish to see in the world!