“A Fire of Technological Passion” | Essay Contest for Young People 2020

At the start of this school year, I entered into an essay competition. It was the Essay Contest for Young People 2020, and the theme was “A Dream I Want to Make”. Below is what I wrote and submitted. I named it “A Fire of Technological Passion” because it essentially talks about and illustrates (in a way) the relationship that I have with technology. It was an extremely fun, yet challenging opportunity, and I loved it. Let me know what you think!


The time was around the end of 2011. My dad had just brought home an Apple iPhone 4, an incredible piece of technology back then. I, a curious and naive six-year-old, did not even know what it was when I saw it in his hand, but I was the most ecstatic I had ever been. When my sister and I got our hands on the phone, we were captivated by what it could do and lost for words to express our joy — and for hours. It was a wonderful moment for us. That was the time I was introduced to technology, and it changed my life forever.

Growing up as a kid in Cambodia, a developing country in Southeast Asia, I have always been fascinated with technology. Little-boy me considered it to be magic. It could do numerous complicated and amazing things so easily and instantaneously. And it kept getting better. Whenever I was presented with an opportunity to interact with or learn about technology, I had never turned it down. Technology lit inside of me a flame of interest and curiosity, and it has been burning with passion ever since. However, it did not take long for me to realize that technology was scarce and expensive, especially here in Cambodia.

The realization took its toll on me, and from time to time, it still does. I just believed that technology was such a useful and helpful tool, whether it was to assist someone in completing tasks or being entertained. I thought that many wondrous things could be done with it. At the time, knowing that only a small portion of the nation had access to technology was somewhat discouraging for me and my fire, considering I was relatively young and new to the world. But I could not let that unfortunate fact weigh me down. Hence, I swore and was determined to bring everyone technology, so that they, too, could get their creative hands on it and experience the same emotion I had when I first interacted with technology. It was one of the first dreams I had.

Today, in Cambodia, most people in urban areas have access to technology, which, of course, is great. But many in the countryside, or rural areas that are distant and not populous, do not. The world is ever-changing, and some, which includes us Cambodians, are still unable to experience it. I want to do something about this. For a country to develop and move forward, its people must do so first, so how do I get, or help get, more people access to technology? This question continues to linger in my mind. Earlier this year, during my fourth year at the Liger Leadership Academy, the school which I now attend, I joined a project and was able to find a possible answer to that question. That project was Solar Pi.

Solar Pi is a project started in 2016 with the aim of introducing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education into government schools with solar-powered computer labs. Currently, two computer labs, with only one being powered by solar energy, have been installed in two small schools, both of which are located in Takeo, a province in the southern part of Cambodia. With these computer labs, students have access to a variety of computer programs, which they can learn how to use. The Solar Pi team also developed a custom curriculum for students to follow. The students take a computer class, which consists of learning 3 main programs: FreeCAD, a software for 3D design; Scratch, a program for its own block-based visual programming language; and Pencil2D, a software for 2D animation. To assist them in learning the programs, tutorial videos have been made by several Liger students as well.

Every now and then, I think about the students in Takeo who are using the computer labs we installed, following the curriculum we wrote, and watching the tutorials we made. I think about the students, the progress they could make, and what they could accomplish with the technology we have given them. I think about the dream I had as a boy almost 9 years ago. It is quite a bit to take in sometimes. It brings me joy knowing that they now have new educational materials to learn from, different resources to work with, and tools to use. I have achieved a fraction of my dream, and I am immensely proud of it.

To me, just the thought of changing someone’s life is already huge. Thus, to actually create that impact is truly a great accomplishment. And me being a part of Solar Pi has helped make that happen. I was, and am, extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to be involved in such an impactful project. I look forward to the next time I visit the schools in Takeo, and I cannot wait to see how much the students will have gained from the computer labs.

I wish I could tell six-year-old me what he will do in the future and cheer him up from the realization that not every individual had access to technology back then. I am sure he would like that. In spite of that, I still have quite a long way to go. Innumerable people all over the world still do not have access to technology, and I have yet to fully attain my dream here in my own country. The same question remains: how do I bring every person technology?

Bringing technology to everyone can be done in many different ways. I believe that Solar Pi is a fantastic project that can be easily replicated not just here in Cambodia but in other developing countries as well. And that is so because of one main reason: price. When we think about technology, we may picture costly products or devices. However, the computer that the Solar Pi team uses is the Raspberry Pi; specifically, it is the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B. The Raspberry Pi is cheap and tiny compared to other computers, but it is an incredibly capable and versatile machine. It can be modified to fit your needs and do numerous things. Speaking of price, in addition to the Raspberry Pi, one of the two computer labs we installed in Takeo functions on energy from the sun (hence the name of Solar Pi), which also helps mitigate expenses. This, creating and running projects similar to Solar Pi, is one way to get everyone technology.

The year is 2020. It has been almost 9 whole years since I was introduced to technology, found a penchant for it, and simultaneously felt heartbroken that not all the people had access to it. It has been almost 9 whole years since I dreamt and determined that I would work to the fullest of my capacity to bring the Cambodian citizens, especially those in rural areas, technology because I wanted them to be able to use and interact with it, too. It has been almost 9 whole years since then, and my flame of fervor and love for technology has only grown. I envision a future where all the people of Cambodia have technology. I have taken an enormous leap towards achieving my dream, and I promise I will only continue to move closer.

Solar Pi: Changing Cambodia (2019-2020)

In today’s day and age, technology can be found almost everywhere. It has drastically altered how our human world functions. From near-instantaneous communication to automated machinery, modern technology helps us to complete our daily tasks with ease, whether simple or complex. And with new advances in technology yearly, it continues to become even more efficient and useful. Technology has undeniably improved many aspects of the lives of billions who have access to it. But what of the other billions who do not?

One of the numerous aspects of life that has been made much easier thanks to technology is education. During difficult times such as this global pandemic, and with social distancing guidelines, technology has not only made education around the globe possible but also less of a daunting challenge. Through the use of smartphones and computers, students are able to learn better and in various ways. They have access to a multitude of online educational resources, can virtually connect with a peer or teacher, stay organized, and so much more. Unfortunately, it is a fact that not every single person is lucky enough to get their creative hands on modern technology, especially those who live in developing countries like Cambodia.

In Cambodia, although most people in urban areas have access to technology, many in the countryside, or rural areas that are distant and not populous, do not. Certainly, the number of users is larger by a huge degree than it was a few years ago. However, the world is ever-changing, and some are still unable to experience it. Some may not even be aware of it. For a country to develop and move forward, its people must do so first, so how do we get more people access to technology? During my fourth year at the Liger Leadership Academy, I joined a project and was able to play a role in helping answer that question. That project was Solar Pi.

Solar Pi is a project started in 2016 with the aim of introducing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education into government schools with solar-powered computer labs. Currently, two computer labs have been installed in two small schools, both of which are located in Takeo. With these computer labs, students have access to a variety of computer programs, which they can learn how to use. The Solar Pi team also developed a custom curriculum for students to follow in their computer class. It consists of learning 3 main programs: FreeCAD, a software for 3D design; Scratch, a program for its own block-based visual programming language; and Pencil2D, a software for 2D animation. To assist them in learning the programs, tutorial videos have been made by several Liger students as well.

I joined Solar Pi at the end of my third year at Liger. During my first months, I spent my time learning about the project and helping with basic tasks. Last year (my fourth year), Solar Pi became senior student Vornsar’s Impact Project, and I continued to be a part of it. Over the months, I worked primarily on the technological side of the project, updating the computers, installing new software, fixing technical problems, and organizing the computers for students to effortlessly navigate and use. In addition, I also helped edit the tutorial videos for FreeCAD lessons and went on trips to set up the computer labs.

Every now and then, I think about the students who are using the computer labs we installed, following the curriculum we wrote, and watching the tutorials we made. I remember the trips the team and I took to the two schools we work with in Takeo. I think about the students, the progress they could make, and what they could accomplish with the tools we have given them. It is quite a bit to take in sometimes. It brings me joy knowing that they now have new educational materials to learn from and different resources to work with.

To me, just the thought of changing someone’s life is already huge. Thus, to actually create that impact is truly a great accomplishment. And being a part of Solar Pi has helped make that happen. I was, and still am, extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to be involved in such a wonderful project. I look forward to the next time I visit the schools in Takeo, and I cannot wait to see how much the students will have gained from the computer labs we installed.


As of writing this, it has been approximately two months since my fourth school year ended. With the emergence of COVID-19 earlier this year, the world has gone into lockdown. New safety measures such as masks and social distancing guidelines have been put in place, and life has gotten quite hard. It may come as no surprise that many are struggling to get through this pandemic, myself included. 

I went into quarantine around the end of March, about three months before the end of the school year, and still am. I personally find it difficult to stay productive and focused when it comes to schoolwork. Other issues I face include staying motivated and optimistic, having a stable sleep schedule, and in general, being happy. But on the bright side, it has also allowed me to learn more about myself and the world, explore and try new hobbies, and contemplatively reflect on life as well as on my school year at Liger.

The school I go to, the Liger Leadership Academy, like most schools, has closed for safety and has moved to online learning. This change led them to face a number of challenges and to make sure students continue to receive education. It is unfortunate that the class of 2020 has to have their graduation either cancelled, postponed, or happen virtually. As the end of the year is getting closer, schools are trying to reopen while simultaneously being cautious of possible dangers. I believe that life is as hard, if not harder, for teachers as it is for us and that they are trying their best, and for that, I express gratitude to them.

If being at home for over five months has taught me anything about the world, it is that there are more uneducated people than I had previously thought. It is dispiriting but true that some groups of individuals do not believe that COVID-19 exists; hence, they do not protect themselves in any way when they go out in public spaces, endangering not only themselves but others as well. And when they are asked or told to put on a mask, they usually do not do so. To prevent this from possibly happening again, I hope that in the future, people will receive greater education and knowledge.

In spite of all the hardships that took place over the course of my fourth school year, it was definitely one of the greatest years I have had so far during my time here at Liger. Even though I’ve had my ups and downs, when I finally reflected upon the work I completed, it felt quite rewarding. I am also proud of the change that I was able to help make this year, and I am eager for the following years to come. As always, it was another awesome year at Liger.

English Literacy: Conformity and Its Effects (Video)

In addition to writing, we also had to record and make a video of ourselves presenting the content of our writing as if we are virtually talking to an audience. Unfortunately, the video’s file size is too big for me to upload and include in this post, so I have uploaded it to Google Drive and made it accessible for anyone and everyone who is interested in watching.

Link to video: http://bit.ly/3nOs7lz

I am quite proud of both the writing and the video, and I enjoyed making them very much. I hope you like them!

English Literacy: Conformity and Its Effects

Source: https://c532f75abb9c1c021b8c-e46e473f8aadb72cf2a8ea564b4e6a76.ssl.cf5.rackcdn.com/2017/05/17/8tkt4alhyv_Yankari_Feature_Herd_Ele_1440px.jpg

In the natural world, numerous animals live and thrive together in groups. Essentially, animal aggregation provides protection from predators, which often target the outliers, but it also significantly reduces the chances of an attack. Staying in groups can be found in an incredibly big number of species, ranging from the smallest, like ants, to the largest, like elephants and whales. This is especially true for mammals, including us humans. Almost all mammals are very social creatures and depend on one another for survival. But benefits usually don’t come freely without some sort of disadvantage. Let’s take a look at the behavior of animals when they are in groups, or more commonly referred to, herds. More specifically, let’s look at sheep.

Source: https://a57.foxnews.com/media2.foxnews.com/BrightCove/694940094001/2019/04/25/931/524/694940094001_6029963845001_6029961465001-vs.jpg?ve=1&tl=1

Sheep are hoofed mammals that are usually kept as livestock. The behavior of sheep is what allows farmers to easily manage, move, and look after large numbers of them. Sheep are extremely gregarious animals. They require company for the same reason previously mentioned, which is protection. Sheep, and a lot of other animals that live in herds, have something called the herd mentality. Let’s take a look at this picture here.

Source: https://d1yhils6iwh5l5.cloudfront.net/charts/resized/39684/original/Bull_herd_cartoon_03.18.2016.jpg

For animals, the herd mentality is an instinct of following other animals in the herd, whether it is doing something or traveling somewhere. As for sheep, whatever a single sheep in the herd chooses to do, the rest strongly follows. However, varying from animal to animal, this innate behavior can be so powerful that animals don’t really think about it. For sheep, it is hard-wired and strong. This means that sheep will do whatever the herd does no matter what it is, even if it leads them to their death, as you can see in the picture with cows. If a sheep is led to the slaughterhouse, the rest will follow without hesitation. If a few sheep decide to jump off a cliff for no reason, the others will likely follow. After all, sheep are prey animals and their only defense is to flee together, so they constantly feel the need to be in a flock, especially in the center, as a way to ensure they’re safe from predators. A fun fact is that if a sheep is not accompanied by at least 4 or 5 other sheep when grazing, it will start acting incredibly agitated. They need each other. So that is the nature of sheep and the herd mentality. 

Source: https://argentcapital.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/herd-mentality_resized4web.jpg

Why am I telling you this? The herd mentality, also referred to as mob mentality, is often used to portray the human tendency of blindly following the crowd, even though possible harm is involved. When I say crowd, I mean any social group, whether it is your class, your family, your group of friends, coworkers, or just society as a whole. And by blindly following the crowd, I mean making decisions based on other people, decisions that are different from what you would make on your own. It is also more based on emotion, rather than logical consideration. When most of the people in a group do something, it creates this pressure and compels others to copy. Simultaneously, but subtly, it also instills into those people fear of social rejection, meaning that if you’re different or not doing what we’re doing, we will exclude you from the group. Herd mentality is following the crowd in doing something because of no other reason than that there are a lot of people doing it and that you don’t want to be an outlier.

Source: https://media.agoodson.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Social-conformity-670×449.jpg

There’s a similar behavior that is more present in human society nowadays known as conformity. Conformity is the act of changing one’s attitude to behave the way that other people do in a social group, to match its norms in hopes of gaining social security and acceptance. Simply put, norms are implicit and unspoken rules of how you should act, of what is considered socially acceptable. So in a way, it is pretending to be someone who you are actually not. I’m confident I can say that a lot of us have experienced conformity before. When was the last time you changed your answer to a question on the board just because when the teacher called on many other students, they had a different answer? This is how we instinctively function, it is hammered into our DNA. In a more primal sense, being a part of a group reassures you of your survival. We conform because we fear social rejection, because we feel a lack of social security in ourselves. To be a part of a group is to be accepted and to be accepted, in today’s world, is to conform. And that, the fear of being excluded and alone, known as social rejection, for a lot of us in society, dictates how we act.

Source: https://www.verywellmind.com/thmb/Xq9v-36QBqPG6AdTQroI0SFAE9E=/1500×1000/filters:no_upscale():max_bytes(150000):strip_icc()/what-is-conformity-2795889-5be9979846e0fb00510c5c04.png

To visualize conformity, let’s take a look at this image. There are two halves. In the first half, you see a group of 3 girls who are wearing similar clothing, jeans, striped tops, and slip-on shoes, hanging out together and another girl who’s wearing differently, spotted clothing, a skirt, and boots, looking at them with a slightly upset face. In the second half, you see that the girl has changed her clothes and shoes to match those of the group of girls. You can also see that she is approaching and interacting with them with a smile, rather than staring at them with an upset face. This is what conformity may look like for students at school. It is caused by the desire to have company and to fit in, as a response to the fear of being socially rejected.

Source: https://thejourneyofstevielo.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/emotion.jpg?w=1000

Despite the idea of changing yourself in any way just to fit into a social group seeming somewhat negative, conformity is not necessarily bad. I believe that a double-edged sword is the idiom that describes conformity. Whether conformity has a negative or positive effect solely depends on who or what you conform to. According to researchers, many people conform for a variety of reasons. We’re going to take a look at the positive and negative side of conformity.

Source: https://kidshelpline.com.au/sites/default/files/bdl_image/header-T-PPAFI.png

For a large number of individuals, in the process of conforming, they lose their identity as people. Because they changed to fit into a group, they’re no longer themselves, but rather are imitating the behavior of others. They may even feel pressured to keep acting that way because if they don’t, they might not be considered a part of the group anymore. That is unhealthy and toxic. Additionally, on a large scale, this can lead to a lack of diversity in people. There would be groups of people acting the same way. They would like the same things and do the same things. There just wouldn’t be any diversity in people and everything can feel very boring, robotic you could say. These are some of the negative effects of conformity.

Source: https://images.yourstory.com/cs/7/6f8dcd00-2d6d-11e9-aa97-9329348d4c3e/Untitled_design_(1)1564760623251.png

Turning to the bright side, in conforming for social security, it can benefit us in ways that we didn’t initially think of. When you conform to a group of people, you can change drastically, depending on how long you stick with them. Things about your character that can change include your habits and your interests. If you have bad habits, the group may notice them and by spending more time with the group, you will slowly learn to get rid of those bad habits, and maybe even adopt some good habits that other people in the group hold. Of course it also depends on the type of people that are in the group, but if you have the right people, there are sure to be positive changes. Being a part of a group also means that you have people who will provide you with company, support, and protection. When you’re feeling down, you will have people who will talk and help you, in addition to your family. They’re basically friends. At some point in life, you will go through some sort of conformity, especially when you’re growing up or moving to a new place, and it can lead to many great things, like best friends, and shape you in different ways.

Source: https://cached.imagescaler.hbpl.co.uk/resize/scaleWidth/880/cached.offlinehbpl.hbpl.co.uk/news/OIC/DiverseAudience2.png

Comparing the effects of conformity, it all comes down to how you ultimately view them. Following the crowd, disregarding whether it is herd mentality or caused by conformity, is a behavior that a lot of us have experienced, and still do. It’s even in animals. Despite its negative connotations, conformity is not something that is always going to have bad outcomes. As I said, it is like a double-edged sword. Depending on who or what you conform to, the effects can either be positive or negative. You just need to evaluate the situation and how you conform. If you’re a conformist, think about the group of people you’re conforming to, but also think about yourself. Is this really worth it? How are people treating me? Personally, I believe that conformity is something that we all go through at some point in our lives. It may or may not lead to great things, but I believe that it is essential in keeping balance in society. How worthy is a solution if there was not even a problem in the first place? Conformists or nonconformists, they all are a part of society. And that is the beauty of it all.


References:

https://www.commonlit.org/en/texts/conformity

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-conformity-2795889

https://connectusfund.org/15-biggest-pros-and-cons-of-conformity-in-society

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiC0Gi0nK9g

http://www.sheep101.info/flocking.html

https://www.merckvetmanual.com/behavior/normal-social-behavior-and-behavioral-problems-of-domestic-animals/social-behavior-of-sheep

https://askdruniverse.wsu.edu/2018/01/12/animals-live-groups/

https://www.consulting.com/herd-mentality

https://www.britannica.com/animal/mammal

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_H-DioFXpec

Costume and Set Design: Creative Art Piece Challenge

In round 3 of my fourth year at Liger, I was in the exploration Costume and Set Design. The goal of the exploration was to design the set and costumes for a play that Senior Dalin, who was the facilitator/supervisor of the exploration, wrote for Phare Ponleu Selpak, which is a non-profit art school in Battambang. Later in the exploration, we took a trip to Battambang and visited Phare to work with them on the play. While we were in Battambang, we also went to Sangker Gallery, a creative art space in the city. When we got there, we were given a challenge to find an art piece that we like and write a story for it in a creative way. I worked on the challenge with my good friend Narak, and we chose to write a poem. It is titled “Dystopian Sunset”, and it, along with a picture of the art piece from Sangker Gallery that we picked, can be found at the bottom of this post. The poem can also be viewed on Google Docs here: bit.ly/3mX3y4M. I had quite a wonderful time in Battambang, working with Phare, visiting Sangker Gallery, and writing about one of the art pieces there. Overall, I enjoyed being a part of this exploration. And I hope you enjoy this poem!

“Dystopian Sunset”

Narak & Panharith

Our world was beautiful

free of corruption and greed.

Everything was balanced.

Life was free of humanity’s domination.

 

The second they step foot in this utopia

the lands became drained of peace.

Instead, the world was filled with misery and despair.

We became hopeless and helpless.

 

Slowly, our world started to crumble.

Ruination was brought upon us all.

Our homes became destroyed

and there was nothing we could do about it.

 

The givers faded to ashes.

The blue giant went grey, lifeless.

The invincible dome cracked.

Everything turned into waste.

 

We sat and watched

as they continued to bring detriment

upon us all, but also themselves.

We laid, lifeless and, with our last dying breath,

watched the dystopian sunset.

We watched the world end.

Multimedia Storytelling: Stroll of Serenity – Slices

In Multimedia Storytelling, we learned how to tell stories through creative multimedia. One of the media we used was Slices, which is a tool that can make interactive stories with pictures, videos, and more in addition to just plain text. I made one, and I titled it “Stroll of Serenity”. It is about a peaceful and relaxing walk that my exploration group (at the time) and I took to a nearby pagoda a few months ago. Learning how to use Slices and deciding how I wanted to tell my story using its features were probably the main challenges I faced, but I figured them out shortly and finished my story. You can find and read the story here: player.slices.co/stories/-M26d-QHbVGTqFTQ6oBU. I hope you like it, and thank you for reading!

English Literacy: What It Means to Be Lonely

Source: https://www.papyrus-uk.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Lonely-Christmas.jpg.webp

According to a survey conducted In 2010, 60% of 18 to 34 year olds claimed they often felt lonely. Recently in 2018, another survey found that 46% of the entire US population felt lonely on a regular basis. Being human, we yearn for company and social connection with the people we live around. It is the feeling of being included and wanted in a group of people. Without social contact, we feel lonely. 

Even though technology is the most developed and advanced it has ever been, allowing us to conveniently reach out to our loved ones and others, an number astonishing people all over the world still feel lonely, isolated, and/or disconnected. But what does it mean to be lonely, to experience loneliness? What happens when we feel lonely? Why do we feel it? What can it lead to? And how can we get rid of it?

What is loneliness?

Simply defined, loneliness, also known as social isolation, is the emotion of being socially detached and empty. It is the feeling of being excluded and unneeded around others. The human tendency when we are faced with loneliness is to crave social interactions as a way of getting rid of it. Though some types of people are more likely to be affected, such as teenagers and the elderly, anyone can become lonely. No matter your age or personality, if under the required circumstances, absolutely anyone can experience loneliness. 

What people might confuse loneliness with is solitude, the state of being alone. There are differences between the two. The presence of one emotion does not necessarily mean the presence of the other as well. Put into perspective, you can feel isolated while being in a room full of people and you can be enjoying every second of being alone. You don’t have to be alone to feel lonely. In today’s world, being alone is more of a choice while loneliness is not. Additionally, others are less able to recognize loneliness than solitude.

On the more scientific side of loneliness, it is in our biology. As social mammals, we depend on the company of others as support and protection. In prehistoric times, our brains believed loneliness was a sign you are less likely to survive. It believed being surrounded and socially connected with others increased our chances of survival. It still does and so, it is the reason for our loneliness today. When we feel lonely, activity in the areas of our brain that process pain increases which, in a way, means that part of loneliness is physical pain as well.

What are the effects of loneliness?

As already stated, being lonely makes you desire greatly for social contact. It is an instinctive response as well as a solution. But facing loneliness has adverse effects that cause you to hold yourself back from getting rid of loneliness and using that instinctive solution. Being one of the most unhealthy emotions it is, social isolation affects both your physical and mental health negatively in numerous ways.

Loneliness substantially weakens your immune system which allows for other illnesses and disease to easily affect you. You age quicker and are susceptible to physical conditions including arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. It can interrupt your sleep or even give you insomnia. Due to the increased brain activity, you face much more stress. The chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease also doubles for people who feel lonely.

Loneliness itself is not a mental health problem, but rather a state of mind. However, one can be the cause for the other. If you are mentally ill, you may face stigma, which could lead you to experience loneliness. If you are lonely and are not doing anything about it, it could make you mentally ill. It can cause you to have social anxiety, or social phobia, low self-esteem, or even depression. And when it comes to depression, suicide could also be a problem. There are many mental illnesses that could be caused by loneliness. It is not something that you should neglect.

How can loneliness affect my behavior?

The long-term effects that social isolation have on your cognitive and psychological behavior are detrimental and are those that prevent you from getting rid of loneliness. When loneliness persists for a long time, you become socially sensitive. Due to having not experienced close and social contact for a very long time, you understand people less, can become paranoid, interpret the actions and behaviors of others in ways that are incorrect, you may feel scared because of social anxiety, and you may make assumptions that are not true– usually negative ones about others. This can lead to selfishness which worsens your condition even more.

As you become selfish, you also become unfriendly and socially awkward. You focus more on the bad of others and may develop a certain view of them. Not only that, you may also have negative thoughts of yourself because of the way you assume most people see you. This paves way for antisocial behavior and fear of social interactions, both of which also worsens your condition of loneliness. Loneliness can become chronic and the longer it stays untreated, the worse it becomes as you start to cut people out of your life, become mentally ill, and fear people even more. So how do you get rid of and treat this unhealthy emotion?

What causes you to be lonely?

Like in solving most problems, it is important to look for and identify the cause. The factors that contribute to the growth of loneliness in people’s well-being can vary from person to person, especially in age. Loneliness can be caused by many things. In teenagers, it can be caused by moving to a new school or a new city, or losing a family member. In adults, it can be living alone for a very long time, ending a relationship, working far from home, or even just too much work. Keep in mind that the experience of loneliness is completely individual and personal, so no one is able to identify it better than you are. 

How do you treat loneliness?

It can be handy to remember that loneliness is a universal human emotion when trying to treat it. It is normal for people to feel lonely from time to time. Everybody experiences loneliness. It could help to just get yourself used to feeling lonely. However, if loneliness becomes chronic and it starts to have adverse effects on you, it does not help to ignore. The effects may not be harmful at first, but overtime, your condition can worsen and become damaging to both your mental and physical health.

When it comes to treating and getting rid of loneliness, it can be daunting. It can take a very long time and a lot of effort. If you know someone who you think or know is lonely, it would be of great value if you could help them. The most important part is to connect, socialize, and spend more time with other people than alone, all while trying not to make negative assumptions about others. It is also crucial to identify the negative effects loneliness has on you and act in accordance to your needs. It could help to join small public events, to meet new people, and start new friendships. When doing so, be optimistic and expect the best out of situations because it could help you feel better. If you need, do not be afraid to seek professional help. It never hurts to look for help. There are many ways to get rid of loneliness and different people treat it differently. You just need to figure out what your needs are and then go from there.


References:

Blanco-Suarez , Elena. “The Neuroscience of Loneliness.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 19 Dec. 2017, www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/brain-chemistry/201712/the-neuroscience-loneliness

Cherry, Kendra. “The Health Consequences of Loneliness.” Verywell Mind, Verywell Mind, 9 Dec. 2019, www.verywellmind.com/loneliness-causes-effects-and-treatments-2795749

Kurzgesagt. “Loneliness.” YouTube, YouTube, 17 Feb. 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3Xv_g3g-mA

“Loneliness.” Mind, the Mental Health Charity – Help for Mental Health Problems, July 2019, www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/loneliness/#.XftnEWQvO03

“Loneliness.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, www.psychologytoday.com/intl/basics/loneliness

Raypole, Crystal. “Chronic Loneliness: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, and More.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 25 June 2019, www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/chronic-loneliness

Storytelling: One Choice, One Destiny – Rayuth’s Story

“If you have a dream, would you rather keep dreaming or make it a reality? The choice you make will take you to your destiny.”

At 5 years of age, Rayuth would often catch his dad and his friends watching football in their free time. Being the curious boy he was, he made the decision to try and play what was shown on his father’s television: football. As usual as exploring for hobbies goes, it wasn’t certain that football would be an activity Rayuth would find himself wallowing in. Nonetheless, the instance he picked up a ball, he couldn’t let it go– nor stop kicking it; it seemed as if a connection had formed between him and football. Ever since the day Rayuth touched a ball, he has never stopped loving football for being the enjoyable sport it is.

Apart from his dad’s love for watching football on television, his friends and classmates played a lot of it, too. Although Rayuth had a liking for football, he found himself facing many obstacles when he first started. He had no knowledge of how everything worked nor did he know how any of the different and unique techniques were done. To Rayuth, however, that was just the opening of a door full of opportunities to learn about all the amazing parts of football. Many of his friends would sometimes complain and tease him about him not being very good, but that didn’t prevent him from having the fun he wanted. Instead, Rayuth came to be filled with ambition and even greater curiosity. In the world of sports, you get back up no matter how much you’ve fallen– and each time stronger than before, ready to face whatever’s next.

“It was hard. I didn’t know a lot about football at first. It was hard, but fun,” Rayuth said smiling.

Football has always been the active hobby that keeps Rayuth healthy and in shape while simultaneously bringing him pleasure. At school, he plays football 4-5 times weekly. It is also an activity that helps him with his well-being and uplifting his mood. Whenever he feels stressed from schoolwork or bored, he would always entertain himself by stepping foot into the school’s sports field and picking up a ball.

“Football is like a friend to me,” Rayuth explained thoughtfully.

When Rayuth first came to his school, Liger Leadership Academy, football was the sport that helped him form bonds of friendship with other students who played. To him, it is a way to make connections with new people while having fun.

The times that Rayuth visits his hometown, he would see many kids, bare feet, playing football in front of their houses or on empty roads, yelling playfully while doing so. Those moments are what reminds him of his own past, of when he used to be just like them. Those moments are what gave Rayuth a dream: to help them find and reach their dreams.

Now here at Liger, Rayuth gets the opportunity to not only play with his friends, but in real matches against other teams from many different schools as well. He gets to practice and play in proper fields and with proper equipment.

To Rayuth, football is a passion. He wants to help those who indulge in playing football to get better and improve, to give them the same opportunity he has received at Liger. Already, he’s helped many of his friends at Liger. Encouraging more youths to be involved in football, especially those in his community, is one of his numerous goals for his time here at Liger. Having been immersed in football for a very huge part of his childhood, and still continuing to be so, it has helped change and shape Rayuth into the person he is today.

I would like to thank Rayuth for taking the time to answer the many questions I had and make this story really come alive. It wouldn’t have been possible without you. If you would like to check it his blog, click here! He’s a great person! Thank you for reading!

Liger Marine Research Team (LMRT): Second Generation

At Liger, there is a project called LMRT, short for Liger Marine Research Team. Having an explanatory name, LMRT is a project consisting of 8 members, senior Liger students, who are interested and passionate about the ocean in their own unique way. These individuals came together to form the research team for one main purpose: to help Cambodia’s ocean. In achieving the big goal, they conduct research, surveys, and work with other organizations and conservations to identify and solve the problems Cambodia’s ocean is facing. As this is the last year for the seniors, they are spending much of their time getting ready to graduate and leave Liger which includes the 8 senior members of the research team. Regardless, LMRT is an important project that needs to continue due to the fact that Cambodia’s ocean still faces many harmful threats today. So to ensure this project continues, 8 junior students came together to form the second generation of LMRT. And I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to be one of those 8 students.

To be able to continue LMRT on our own, we, the second generation of LMRT, needed to get ready first. For round two, we had an exploration that was designed to prepare and give us the necessary knowledge as well as key skills needed to keep LMRT going. With the help of our experienced and beloved senior LMRT members, we learned from them the Open Water Diver (OWD) course by SSI (Scuba School International). One of the many things we will be doing later is conducting surveys underwater, which is a very important part in marine conservation. In order to do that, we must know how to dive; hence we took the OWD course. The site we will be working at is Koh Seh island in Kep province in the southern region of Cambodia. The organization that works on the island to protect Cambodia’s ocean is Marine Conservation Cambodia, MCC for short. The first generation of LMRT has been working with and learning from them for a very long time and we will do the same. At the end of the exploration, we took a trip to Koh Seh for our dive certification which includes dive training and the exam. The OWD course and exam was very hard and challenging. In addition to there being just so much information, everything we were learning was new, so it required extra practice in our own time to get ready. Nonetheless, we all completed and passed the exam. I’m extremely proud of myself and everyone for achieving this task. The rest of the trip was very productive and fun. We got to meet many new people and do a lot of new things in the ocean. It’s an experience that I won’t forget. Overall, the exploration was a time full of learning and it was a great start to this project.

Before I was in LMRT, I felt like marine life was less cared for than terrestrial life and that there weren’t as many marine conservation efforts as terrestrial conservation efforts. The reason for that was that I was simply uneducated and unaware of what was being done to help the ocean. I knew most of the major problems and threats of the ocean, but not what was being done to try and solve them. Not only has being in LMRT broadened my knowledge of the numerous issues the ocean is facing, it has also introduced me to many threats I never knew of as well as amazing marine conservations and scientists who are trying to protect the ocean against those threats. I know now that the ocean faces more problems than I think, with new ones arising everyday, but I also know that there are people who love the ocean enough to be willing to fight for and protect it against those problems.

Being in LMRT has changed me in various ways as a person who loves and wants to protect the ocean. It has helped me understand that everything we humans do everyday has an effect on the earth including marine life and the ocean. On the first trip to Koh Seh island in Kep for our dive certification, one of the many things we did was beach cleaning. Every so often on the island, there would be a beach clean-up because there’s trash like plastic that washed up ashore at different parts of the island. To me, the island isn’t very big compared to other islands in the archipelago, so it is easy for us to spread out and collect waste. While I was walking on the southern coast of the island, in the parts that we don’t normally work at, and picking up trash, I realized a lot of what I was picking up could be reused and recycled to help the environment instead of just sitting on the coast polluting and destroying the waters. Today, that realization makes me really think of items I buy and how I use them to be more careful and make sure that they don’t end up in places like the ocean, where they could damage the environment. This way I can help protect marine life and their habitat without having to be there which is a thought that truly fills me with glee. It is something that has grown within me since being in LMRT and I’m thankful that it has.

Going into LMRT, I didn’t know what to expect because I thought the opportunity to work with people who share the same passion as you was already exciting on its own, so I didn’t really carry with me any expectations when I started. Now having been a LMRT member for a while, I can say that everything we do with each other is just great. Everyone is unique. The fact that we all love and are passionate about the ocean is what makes everything so much better. It is what connects us as individuals together when we work. We’re all teachers and learners and we help each other out all the time without any problems. This also applies to the people on Koh Seh. Even though I spent less than a week on the island, I already felt like there was a strong bond of friendship between us. For the entire time I was there, everything felt so welcoming. I guess I can and would like to say that being a part of this project just feels warm because you’re constantly surrounded by amazing and lovely people who are there to support and offer you help at any time. It is really wonderful.

For the time I’ve been in LMRT, there is so much we’ve done with each other and there is even more that I believe and know we will do and accomplish. As one of the many personal goals I have moving forward, I aim to get to know everyone in this project better and build upon the connection we already have into something greater. I also desire to improve and become more immersed in swimming and diving in the ocean. The past few months being a member of this huge project with lovely people has been truly enlightening and I hope for the years ahead to be so as well.

English Literacy: Inside Out & Back Again Narrative Poem

In the second round of English literacy this year, we did a case study on why people flee home, mainly with refugees and their experiences. The book Inside Out & Back Again written by Thanhha Lai was very important and helpful to us in this case study as we used it constantly in discussions of topics regarding what it feels like to be a refugee as well as the factors of becoming a refugee. At the end of the round, we studied refugees from many parts of the world and what was going on their country. As products of this round, we each wrote our own Inside Out & Back Again poem. These poems convey the experience of being a refugee, in a state of discomfort and vulnerability, and being lost, far from home. Below are the first 6 stanzas of my Inside Out & Back Again poem, entitled “Scared and Separated”. This round was one I enjoyed very much.

Scared and Separated

Freed and imprisoned, we cannot help, but fear the silence.

Return home, Azfaar. Bring your brother with you as well. We’ll be with you shortly, I promise.

Sweat is pouring down on my face. I hear shouts and screams far behind me, distant, yet loud and violent, but I dare not turn. I keep on going.

I recall when Father said while smiling, Not too soon, you’ll be in school with your friends again.

Thinking about it makes me miss them more and more.

Badrawi eyes me. Then his grip tightens. Our steps quicken gradually, then our stride breaks into a run…

What happens next? Click here to read the rest of this poem! Or if that is not working, here is the link: http://bit.ly/2KXlWdp

Thank you for reading!