Traditional Foods

Cuisine Wat Damnak, Siem Reap. Credits to our lovely facilitator, Cindy Liu.

Second round, second exploration and that exploration is Traditional Foods. I’ve always loved food. To me, it is one of the best things in life. There have been times where I loved food so much to the point where I wanted to become a chef. Evidently enough, the goal of this exploration was to learn about Khmer Traditional Food basically. But the main focus of learning about it was to find stories and specialties.

In first few weeks, we discussed and identified what traditional food is, looked at restaurants in Cambodia that cooks Khmer traditional food, and split into groups to send those restaurants an email about a visit, so that we can learn from them. There were many restaurants, about 6, but the restaurant I sent an email to was called Malis. Not all of the restaurants replied to everyone’s emails, but the restaurants that did were Mahob, Cuisine Wat Damnak, and The Sugar Palm. These restaurants were all in Siem Reap and they all cooked Cambodian/Traditional Khmer Food which was, as mentioned, our targets. Later on in the exploration, we would go on a four-day trip to Siem Reap to go to those restaurants.

Splitting into three groups that were based off photography, videography, and journalism was what we did after. I was in the journalism team with 3 other students and the rest were either in the photo team or the video team. The duty of each team is already told in their name; the photo team is responsible for photos, video team’s the same, but with videos, and the journalism team’s responsible for writing down the information gathered. But despite there being three teams, the journalism team was split in two because we needed to learn about photography and videography (wo~!). Since the journalism didn’t have much to do after that, we decided to set up a blog for our exploration. Then came the trip.

A stall in Skun, Kampong Cham. Credits: Leza Sorn

Four days to spend in Siem Reap. What would we do? Go to the restaurants and gather stories and information related Cambodian or Traditional Khmer Food of course. The first day, on our way to Siem Reap, we stopped at two places, A famous market in Kampong Cham, Skun and a shop on the side of the road that sold bamboo sticky rice. Stopping at those places gave us the chance to collect information and interview people. When we finally got to Siem Reap, we spent the evening going to a market near our hotel, Psar Krom. We split into groups and went to different parts of the market. My team interviewed a steamed pork bun seller and a porridge seller, both of the sellers each had their own uniqueness.

Mahob Restaurant. Credits: Wathna Sao

The next day, we went to a place that made rice noodles, a famous dish in Cambodia. Then we went to our first restaurant, Mahob. The name “Mahob” translates into food in Khmer which to me, indicates that it cooks Khmer food. We met with the owner who is also the head chef, got a tour of the kitchen and restaurant and interviewed the sous chef. The restaurant was quite nice and I could see its adaptation of Cambodian tradition.

In front of Cuisine Wat Damnak. Credits: Phearum Sorn

Second to last day, third day, we spent our morning going to our second restaurant, Cuisine Wat Damnak. This restaurant is really different from the many restaurants that cook Cambodian/ Traditional Khmer Food because it’s run by a French Chef! And I was inspired because the way they cooked their food was really unique and cool. Since I was in the journalism team, I was responsible for writing about the places we went to and at the end of this blog, you can find the link to our blog which contains our products! Like the previous restaurant, we got a tour of the restaurant as well as the kitchen and we interviewed the chef. We spent the other half of the day at the hotel completing our duties, organizing our photos, videos, notes, and work on our products.

Inside of The Sugar Palm. Credits: Dyna Chhem

Our last day, fourth day, we went to our last restaurant, The Sugar Palm. This restaurant was also unique and different. It was run by a Cambodian woman who spent most of her life in New Zealand. When she came back to Cambodia, she found her love for Cambodian/Traditional Khmer Food and opened a restaurant. She used her family recipe for the food that they cooked which the public likes. She showed us the restaurant, kitchen, how to make one of their famous dishes, Amok and we got to interview her. Then we spent the half of the day traveling back to school.

The last few weeks of the exploration was spent finishing up our products. I really enjoyed being a part of this exploration because it taught me things that I didn’t know before, exposed me to a different part of the world, made me love my country’s food, and just inspired me. My perspective of one thing changed, too and that one thing is that Cambodian food and Traditional Khmer Food is two separate things, not one. What’s the difference you may ask? If you want to find out, then go visit our exploration’s blog and find the article about Cuisine Wat Damnak written by me! I included that in the Cuisine Wat Damnak article because the chef, specifically, was the one that changed my perspective and inspired me! Summing up, this was a great exploration and I had a lot of fun being in it and I also hope to be in another like this one again.

Exploration Blog:

Note: The articles I wrote are titled “A Market of Diversity and Significance” (It’s about Skun) and “There aren’t 1000 ways to breathe, but there are 1000 ways to eat.” (It’s about Cuisine Wat Damnak). Thank you!

Technology/Multimedia: Photography Basics

If you read my “About Me” page, then you would know the things I enjoy doing regarding photography and writing. The three things we focused on this round were the Pixar Story Structure, Photography Basics, and Videography Basics.

We started the round off by learning about Pixar’s story structure and then using them to create our very own stories. The way I look at the story structure is that it’s divided into 5 main parts which goes in the following order, Once upon a time, Everyday, One day, Because of that, and Until finally. These parts have names that are explanitory to what they each do. The first three parts are the introduction and then the problem or event comes in, and that builds up until the “Until finally” which is obviously the concluding point of the story. Now, you probably know that I love writing and that fiction stories are my favorite to write. Using this story structure, I created my own story which was based off another story, or project as I’d call, I wrote in year 1. But the story was too long, so I ended it with a cliffhanger. At the end of class that day, we shared our stories and identified the story structure. You can find the story at the end of this post and feel free to leave comments or suggestions in the comments. I personally enjoyed “rewriting” the story.


Moving on, photography. We learned the basics of photography. It included the exposure triangle and types of camera shots. The exposure is made out of three smaller parts, aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Our facilitator explained to us what they each do and how it affects our photos. We learned about (probably all) the types of camera shots and how we are supposed to take them. Not only did we learn about them, but we were also given chances to try taking those shots ourselves. There was a scavenger hunt. We were required to take the types of shots we were taught and that was fun.

On the last week of multimedia this round, we acquired some knowledge (a dramatic word choice, I know) of videography. Basically, we learned how to properly take videos, two types of microphones, how to use them, A-rolls and B-rolls. Being steady, zooming and panning correctly, were all key parts to taking great videos. The two types of microphones we learned about were the shotgun and the lavalier microphones. We learned on how to set them up and discussed on which one to use in certain situations, which one was good for interviews and which one was good for other things. After learning what A-rolls and B-rolls are, we watched videos and identified them. Like the photography basics lesson, we practiced.

It was a great round as always. I loved learning about photography and videography as well as Pixar’s story structure and practicing the skills we were taught on our own.

Link for the story I wrote:

Math: Fractions

My fiend, Chhay, working on Khan Academy.

In the first round of math this year, we didn’t focus on anything specific since it was the beginning of the year and also because we had a new math teacher. Most of the round was spent learning fractions. The other part was spent reviewing. In the first few weeks, we reviewed a bit on last year’s math, did a little bit of pre-algebra and we made posters that said “Make the most of your learning” to remind students to do so in class. Then we turned to fractions. We had a short review of fractions and then dove deeper into it. It wasn’t that different from last year’s fractions, except that we learned new complex and useful concepts which included multiplying fractions. Other than just learning about fractions, we did many activities in class related to it. Most of the time at the beginning of every class, we would get grouped to do exercises in the workbook together. When we finished, we would either play fun games or work on this free-learning website called Khan academy. This round was like an introduction to what we will be doing in math this year and I had lots of fun in reviewing and catching up on all the things we did in math last year as well as learning new concepts related to fractions. There are many new lessons yet to come in the following rounds and I look forward to them.

Technology and Multimedia: Programs and Algorithms

If you read my post about this round’s physical science, then you know that there are only 3 weeks of this essential in each round rather than 6. This essential aims to improve our use of technology and multimedia. In this round, we focused on 3 different things; researching skills, adobe programs, and programs and algorithms. The first week was the week that we improved our researching skills. We learned what is a research, how to research, identify primary and secondary sources, and a lot more. After learning learning about researching skills, we practiced by picking a topic, coming up with research questions on it, and doing a bit of research on it. In the second week, we had students with experience on adobe programs share and teach the class about them. If you read my changing Cambodia post, then you know that I am in the design team and that we use the adobe program inDesign, but I didn’t choose to teach the class about it considering that many people in the junior cohort already know and that they were willing to teach the class. Instead, I chose to teach Lightroom Classic CC and that was because I use it to edit photos a lot and that not as many people know about it as inDesign. Throughout the week, we learned about 3 different adobe programs which were inDesign, Photoshop, and Lightroom. We then used all the things we learned from the lessons to make a poster out of the research we did in the first week. For the last week of this essential in this round, we learned about programs and algorithms. We learned what programs are and did an activity which was sort of like a program simulation. The class was divided into groups of 3 and in each group, each person had different duties. There was the computer, there was the one that gave instructions to the computer, and there was the one that wrote down the instructions. Our facilitator gave us pictures which were needed to be drawn. The instruction reader would need to tell the computer to draw using specific instructions and computer would just do it without talking. The note-taker, wrote down the instructions after they were said. We took turns being different people and doing different things. The activity was both fun and educational. At the end of the week, we learned about algorithms, what they are and looked at different types of them. We were then given a crime mystery. It was simple, we had to find out when a statue at a museum was stolen between Monday 8 AM and Tuesday 8 AM. The class was divided into groups to find out the most efficient way or algorithm to solve the mystery and it was the divide and conquer algorithm. I had lots of fun learning about technology and multimedia as well as doing educational activities related to them and I look forward to the upcoming rounds with that holds the amazing lessons about this essential.

Khmer Literacy: Poetry

My friend, Chornson, doing research.

So for the second half of last year, our Khmer literacy teacher split us into groups based off the houses we lived in at Liger to create poems. I was in a group with 3 other boys and we wrote 3 poems. One was about what you should and shouldn’t do in school, the other was about deforestation, and the other one was about alcoholic beverages. At around the same time, the seniors worked on a book about Khmer poetry which contained lessons on how to write different types of Khmer poems and poems they wrote themselves. At the beginning of this round, our teacher decided that we, juniors also create a book relating to Khmer poetry, so what we did for most of the round was write poems. Each student was given a type of Khmer poem and they had to write. My type of poem was “ពាក្យ ប្រាំមួយ” which translates into “Six words” and I wrote a poem of that type about the ocean and its problems. At the end of this post, you can find links to both this poem and the other 3 poems which I and 3 other boys created last year as mentioned earlier. I apologize if you do not speak the Khmer language because the poems are in Khmer. For next round, we are going to get into the book design of our junior poetry book and hopefully have it done somewhere in December. This round was a great start to creating our first Khmer Poetry Book.

The Phare performance on the first day of our trip.

There was an event I got to partake in an called the Khmer Literature Festival at the end of this round. So the Khmer literature festival is an event that takes place in a province in Cambodia every year with the theme of that province. Anyone can join and it is where people learn and celebrate Khmer literature. It is full of activities such as book-reading, interviews, and lectures. Last year, it took place in Siem Reap and this year it took place in Battambang. It lasted from the 21st to the 24th of September; Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The first day was a poem-reading competition. 3 of our juniors participated and they were the youngest participators in the competition. Everyone also else had more time to prepare while our students had less than a week. Despite that, 2 of the juniors that participated got first place. All three students did very well however, they wrote and sang beautiful poems. On the second day, there was a discussion about the stories of Battambang, an interview with three Khmer writers, a presentation of graphic design, a book fair and a circus performance. In the book fair, our students sold the senior’s poetry book and it went surprisingly better than we expected. The book was printed in a rush, hence there were a few mistakes and not all poems the seniors wrote were in that book, so I think there will be another edition or part of this book coming soon. I really enjoyed the circus performance. The circus is called “Phare” and their performances are breathtaking and stunning. On the last day, our seniors went to a school to show and talk about the poetry book they created. Overall, I really enjoyed taking part in this event and learning more about Khmer literature as well as Battambang and its stories.


My group’s poems:

My poem about the ocean:

English Literacy: Etymology

For each round of English literacy this year, there will be a theme. This round’s theme was Etymology which is the study of the origins of words and how they’ve changed throughout history. At the beginning of every week on Mondays, we were each given a homework packet which was required to be completed before the week after. These homework packets contained root words, their definitions and origins, 10 words which contain the root words, and a few exercises based off them. When the following week came, we would have an assessment on the homework packet and given another one to complete. Throughout the round, we learned about the history of the English language, its origin, its influences, and how it’s evolved overtime. There were many activities related to it; one of which was creating videos that taught people the root words we were studying. Along with that, we also did a lot of other things. We read at least a text every week and most of the texts required us to complete the activities that came with it which included writing. Sometimes, we would also discuss after reading. We read about 9/11, the black death, William Shakespeare, Mahatma Gandhi, and many more. Somewhere in the second half of the round, we wrote a mini personal narrative about a memory with our family members; if you want to look at mine, there will be a link to it at the end of this post. We also made videos about famous people and why their work should be honored. In literacy, our facilitator tries to find and use as many great resources as we can and I am grateful for that. For the last two weeks of literacy, we read ‘Poison’ by Roald Dahl and completed a hyperdoc which is a document that contains many great resources for something in order to improve the learning experience, in this case, the resources were for the story ‘Poison’. This round was a great first round of English literacy and I learned a lot about the history of the English language as well as many other things. I think what will happen next round is we will develop more on our mini personal narrative, but I’m not sure. If you want to get updated with all the things we will be doing next round then you can do so by visiting this blog every once in a while.

Mini personal narrative:

Physical Science: Matter

This year, there will only be 3 weeks of physical science instead of 6 in each round because normally there are 4 hours of essentials everyday and we have 5 essentials this year which means that we have to split an essential in half to fit all of it in; the other three weeks are for technology and multimedia. Despite that, we still had a great time learning the subject. This round, we focused mainly on matter. In the first half of the 3 weeks, we got into the basics of matter, what it is, then we went deeper into properties of matter, the types of properties, what they are, change in matter, and the types of change. We also learned how to identify them. The first week was like an introduction. On the second half of the 3 weeks, we looked into the building blocks of matter; atoms. We learned what matter is made of, the particles that make up atoms, and the parts of an atom. We spent the last week researching different topics related to physical science in groups and then presenting it. My group’s topics were quarks and atomic force. So quarks are the smallest building blocks of matter; they make up protons and neutrons which are the particles that make up the nucleus. The nucleus is the center of an atom, and the atom is what makes up matter. Atomic force is force that takes place in atoms, as said in the name itself. Even though we only had 3 weeks of physical science, we still learned a lot about some of the things related to it and I hope that we will keep doing so in the upcoming rounds.

Geography Book Design

If you haven’t read my “Changing Cambodia 2017-2018” post, I highly suggest that you do so to avoid any confusion that you might have and fully understand what is happening in this very post of my learning. The first exploration of this year was a continuation of a project that was created last year, the Cambodian Geography Book. It was the last exploration that would finish the entire project. In this last part of the project, we had two new students join us on finishing the book; we had 10 students. We spent the first few weeks putting all the provinces in Cambodia together and going over the content. Before our last school year ended, we met and came up with an idea that not only would make the book more interesting and exciting for the readers, but also input our students’ voice inside the book. The idea was to turn boring sentences into visuals that would give them as much information as reading it. These plug-ins were called graphics and there were four types of them which were student/explorer’s observation, did you know, watch out, and traditional beliefs. You can already tell what they are by their names. Throughout the 7 weeks, we met with our facilitator every single week, set goals, and talked about how we were doing on the book. We also came up with new ideas to improve and change the graphics due to some small problems. For the last few weeks, we went through all the designs as well as the content one last time, checked for consistency and changed a few things. That was the longest process of making the book and it was really frustrating, but we made through it and I’m proud of everyone in the exploration. The book will be printed somewhere around the end of October or early November before 2018 ends, but despite that, I cannot wait for everyone to pick up and read this book. It was created by 12 year old students from the Liger Leadership Academy for the world to read and know about Cambodia. Honestly, this was a great start to the rest of the year and I really enjoyed it.

Changing Cambodia 2017-2018

My second year at the Liger Leadership Academy is going to end really soon, but by the time you’re reading this, it has already ended. Most of the year passed by really quickly. This year at Liger was way different from last year in terms of work and responsibility. I got to be involved in explorations which was something new this year. As some of the seniors mentioned in their blogs, there are five rounds of explorations in each school year and each exploration lasts 7 weeks. My five explorations are Geography Of Cambodia, Liger Wilderness Field Guide, Entrepreneurship, Theater Set Design, and Geography Book Design. All of my explorations has made at least little changes in spite of where the changes took place. Two of my explorations are soon going to really change Cambodia in the following months, before 2018 ends and they are Theater Set Design and Geography Book Design.

At the start of this year, one of the teachers started a project called the Cambodian Geography Book and the name is pretty self-explanatory. The goal of this project was to make a unique and interesting book about the geography of Cambodia for government schools and other people that are interested in learning about Cambodia. The project was divided into seven explorations and I was lucky enough to be in the first one; it was also my first exploration of the year. Our main goal in this exploration was to gather as much information as we can about the central and northern part of Cambodia; these two parts of Cambodia was referred to as region 1. The provinces in this region are Tboung Khmum, Siem Reap, Preah Vihear, Kampong Thom, Kampong Cham, and Oddar Meanchey. Our exploration was divided into three parts, pre-trip, trip, and post-trip. The pre-trip is the first three weeks, the trip is the week after, and the post-trip is the last three weeks. What we did during the pre-trip was gather information about the five themes of the provinces in our region. The five themes were physical systems, infrastructure, environment and society, location in spatial terms, places and regions. To make it easier to research, we split into groups of 3. Each group was assigned a theme to do research on; my group was assigned the theme physical system. The trip is self-explanatory; we went to the provinces in our region. Our goals for the trip was to experience the geographical highlights of each province and do interviews to get a story of any kind to put into the book. We got more than 27 interviews from the trip and the places that we went to were amazing. After we got back, we did research on the history of each province and made predictions. I’d say that this was a really good first step to making the book. Keep in mind that there are six more explorations related to the Cambodian Geography book, three of them is the same as this one, except that they each focused on a different region of Cambodia and the other three explorations focused entirely on book publication. Continue reading “Changing Cambodia 2017-2018”