The month of April has been a very busy month with all things that happened; at the same time, this is what makes Liger so special. On the bright side of this business, the Hydroponic team (used to be an Exploration that happened a while back) got their first harvest! Fortunate enough, I am one of the members in that exploration! I have to say soooooo much work was put into this, both by the students and the amazing facilitator, Waseem. One of the facilitators regards our group as the Pipes Group since we did so much work with pipes: measuring, cutting, and joining them together. We repeated this process for quite some time during our exploration; nonetheless, it came together at the end. The ideal end product of the system would be to have it self-run; we aren’t there yet, but it’s coming up. As if of right now, students have to test the pH twice a day and add more nutrient solution if needed. The first vegetable we planted was green and red cos lettuce. We planted them only on three of the eight available rows of pipes since we are still testing it out and haven’t got to the final product; again, we’ll get there. We harvested only a row, and it gives us 1.5 kg of lettuce. We gave it to our chefs, and it was enough (more or less) to make lettuce salad for our whole-school lunch :); of course, there are other dishes as well. I’m very excited for the final product of the system! And can’t wait to see it!
I really like my round four exploration which was about creating an effective survey, implementing it, and writing a report on the data collected. We focused on a school down at Komspeu province called Chbar Chros Community school (CCC), the only school for three remote villages. There was a survey done before the school was built and another one after the opening of the school to Chbar Chros (CC) village, the village where the school is located, to assess their medical, education, nutrition, and development, the four focusing areas of CCC. During our exploration, in 2018, our group did another survey to follow up and see the improvements in those areas by comparing it to the previous one.
While creating the survey, we divided the responsibility up based on the four areas. I worked very closely with the Nutrition part. Because there was a lack of nutrition-based questions in the previous survey, I didn’t have any baseline to work with; so I kind of set a baseline for the nutrition status. I wanted to make a strong baseline, so I looked at reports done at other places that assess nutritional status and used it as a guide.
Once the survey was created, we did many trials to make sure the questions make sense and are easy to understand. Each survey took 30 to 40 minutes so we recruited other students to help us out during the implementation of the survey at the villages. We spent a whole Sunday, the day which people aren’t working, interviewing 103 families. Afterward, we input the data into a spreadsheet to maximize our efficiency in analyzing it. The input and analysis process definitely took quite a while (more than two weeks). Turning our findings into a report was the last step before our exploration ended. Our report will go on CCC website to attract potential donors by showing them what they’re money will be used for, and showing the past and/or current donors what they’re money has done to the villages.
Overall, I am really proud to be part of this exploration.
My third term Literacy focused on Gender. As part of the term’s assignment, the other students and I were given a task to write a gender-related-article. I chose hair. Have a look at my article writing:
“What have you been doing during your three-week-break? You couldn’t find a time to cut your hair?” I was asked before I returned to my boarding school.
Stereotypes and perceptions about hair are deeply-rooted in Khmer’s mindsets as well as many other people around the world. This idea dates back all the way to at least the Romans and the Ancient Greeks. Archaeologist Elizabeth Bartman states that besides the “bearded, long-haired philosopher,” females, in general, had longer hair than males.
In Cambodian government schools, males are required to have really short hair while females have the freedom between short and long, but preferably long hair. I remember being in grade four and seeing one of my friends get punished by our teacher because he didn’t cut his hair over the weekend. He went up to the front of the class, after being called by the teacher. I could see her fingers reaching out for his sideburn and pulling it upward. She announced to the class that this is our punishment for keeping long hair; she really meant it toward male students. His hair wasn’t even long enough to cover his ear. I was terrified and always cut my hair once it seemed a bit long for a schoolboy.
Despite this rule, there are still male students that keep their hair long. I’ve seen some with hair so long it completely covered their ears. These people have gone through many punishments because they violated school rules, and must not have listened to their parents when they instructed them to cut their hair because it’s “long.” Cambodian society has viewed long-haired men as “gangster”. This makes it really difficult to be seen as an educated man with long hair.
I later got accepted to the Liger Leadership Academy, a non-government school where there’s no rule regarding the length of a person’s hair. My school’s director has really long hair, almost reaching his shoulders, while one of my female friends has really short hair—shorter than many males.
Since I came to Liger, I have always wanted to keep my hair long and experience what it’s like, but my aunt always asked me to cut my hair. Because she has been more like a mother than an aunt to me, I can’t deny her request. Nevertheless, I found a way around it. Considering my literacy class is gender-focused, I have just the perfect excuse to keep my hair long. By now, I have longer hair than any other male students in the school.
Although my aunt doesn’t mind my hair being long because of my literacy unit, I still got told and asked so many times about my hair in school and outside of school.
“Why don’t you cut your hair?”
“What have you been doing on your holiday?”
“When will you cut your hair?”
“You should cut your hair.”
“Go and get your hair cut this weekend.”
I knew these comments would come to me, and I am ready for it too. But what is really strange, but kind of makes sense considering Cambodian people’s mindset, is with the comments that my short-hair-girl-friend received from people on their first impression, “Wow! Really nice hair!”.
I asked her the other day with why she cut her hair short?
She said, “That’s the hardest question for me. I guess it just feels right.” She hesitated and continued, “It’s just being more like myself.”
I strongly agree with her answer. I think it is a person’s decision on whether or not they cut their hair and should not be told by the society and especially their family.
I was given an opportunity from my facilitator of the Speech and Debate expertise class to put together a talk and a presentation for an upcoming event called Cambodia Youth Speak Out. There were four speakers chosen to speak at this event, one from university, 2 already have a profession, and one from Liger; I happened to be the one; I am really thankful for that. The speakers got to choose any topic that they’re passionate about and give a 10 minutes talk about it. I made my presentation about the ocean and the marine ecosystem. Others were about getting lost, an online platform, and a campaign. In my presentation, I talked about how I was introduced to the marine ecosystem, LMRT, ocean’s problems, and solutions. It was a really great experience for me; I got to meet new people, made new friends, and raise awareness about the ocean.
Link to my presentation: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1gyhYtvyxY4AR6S5wu54Mi1KX63aPO63v1QSGSmwGcHc/edit?usp=sharing
I have to say I had an amazing start to the last month, December, of this year, 2017. The other 14 seniors and I have trained very hard to prepare for the 22nd Angkor Wat Half Marathon running race. We trained at least twice a week, one’s at six o’clock in the morning and the other one in the evening; if we have time, we could do another run on the weekend as well. Because we designate so much effort into training, we also had the option to do the 37-kilometer biking with the second cohort.
On Friday the first of December, 25 LLA students, 10 of which are from the second cohort, drove to Siem Reap for the race. We arrived JPA, a very generous academy that allows us to stay over (thanks a lot!), settled ourselves down and relaxed for the biking race the following day. Saturday came, we woke up at 3:30 am! Once everyone was ready, we left JPA and headed straight for the race. The ride took awhile. The race itself actually start at 6 am; we were there early to get our bikes and make sure everything works properly. I took the bike race as a relaxing one, I didn’t go very fast. As the sun rises, I could see the beautiful Cambodia, the rice fields that expand to the horizon, the temples that were built by the Khmer Empire, and the forest that covered the leftover. My friends and I made couple stops to take some pictures. We spent our afternoon in JPA playing card games, soccer, and many more fun games. We slept early to be prepared for the upcoming 10 kilometer-running race; only the first cohort did it though. The next day came, we woke up early and did the same thing again except that we have to pack everything onto the bus because we won’t be coming back to JPA. There were so many people in the race! It took me about 2 minutes after the race started to cross the starting line; some students took longer than that. It was so crowded that the whole 10 kilometers were filled with human being! This made the race much easier for me because every steps I took, I am getting ahead of someone and if I was to stop, I will fall behind; this made me push hard. I gave the race my best. As a result, I broke my own record by about five minutes! That is enough for me to cover around a kilometer! My current time is 53 minutes. After the race, we had breakfast and some time to cool down. We didn’t wait long before returning to Liger.
I had an amazing weekend. I am also looking forward to doing the half marathon next year 😉
I’ve been waiting for a very long time now. I always wanted to be able to go underwater, breathe, and enjoy the amazing world that Cambodia ocean has. I’ve snorkel and it was a fabulous experience for me. But this time, it was different. I got to stay underwater and breathe!
As part of the LMRT project, we have to learn how to scuba dive and be certified for the open water dive; so our team took a five days trip to Koh Seh. At there, we did so many exciting activities; our schedule was so packed. We have to start our first activities at seven and go to bed as early as we can, to keep up with the next day. Despite that fact, everybody has a lot of fun and gained a lot of knowledge. The main activities we did at the island were learning skills, practicing scuba diving, and doing the required-test. We divided into two equal teams. One of the team would learn the skills and scuba dive in the morning and spend their afternoon finishing work from school while the other one would do the opposite of that.
When I first put my scuba dive gear on, such as Buoyancy Compensator Device, gas cylinder, and wetsuit, it felt really weird and heavy; it got lighter once I’m in the water though. Being underwater as a scuba diver felt really scary. I have to control my buoyancy, equalize my ear, and continue to breathe. As days went by, I became more comfortable with my skills and enjoy the underwater world more than thinking about myself. By the end of the trip, we know how to navigate underwater, clean our masks underwater, maintain neutral buoyancy and communicate underwater. We also took many tests to qualify ourselves as a diver including: swimming and treading water and SSI course exam. Nonetheless, we evolved into a certified divers!
On the fourth and last weekend of November, 25th, and 26th, some students and I participated in an eight-hour-long session about Adobe Photoshop; it was offered by one of the board employees and took place in one of the Liger’s classroom. I gained an immense amount of knowledge from that session and have evolved from a novice at Photoshop to a somewhat intermediate at it. I also transform from not knowing what I don’t know to knowing what I don’t know. I could now manipulate images and put them together in a way that sort of blend together, turn a raw image file into an actual photo and adjust it to my favor, make posters with pictures and texts, and so many other possibilities using only Photoshop basic tools.
One of my After School Extension (ASE) is Sudoku. In there, students would get a printed sudoku grid from the facilitator and try to solve it. Depending on the students’ ability and experience, they might pick a different difficulty. There are four options of difficulty including easy, medium, hard, and diabolic. I always go for the hard sudoku but sometimes I go for the diabolic sudoku. To me, sudoku is a strategy game that requires a lot of patience.
One of my expertise that I have twice a week is Speech and Debate. I love this expertise; I would come to class and leave with something new in my brain that can improve my public speaking skills. For the first round, we did multiple debates with multiple styles. There were one where we have to work alone and give a speech to defend our stance, and others where we have to work as a team, pro team and con team. We also learned about the different type of persuasion: ethos, logos, and pathos. Ethos is building up values for yourself as the speaker. Logos is using facts and evidences to convey the message to the audience. Pathos is using your emotion so the audiences get emotional and most likely to be on your side.
In Literacy class, we focus on four areas: writing, speaking, listening, and reading. For the first block, we focused specifically on writing. Every day, when we came to class, we have a Word Of the Day, where we learned a new vocabulary to improve our word choice in writing. Once in awhile, our facilitator would give us about 10 minutes to write about a specific topic in our Literacy Journal; I usually wrote about a paragraph or two. A big part of the first block of literacy is writing our narrative essay, Coming of Age. We went through so many processes of brainstorming, drafting, writing, editing, peer editing, and conferencing with the facilitator. Along the way of writing the narrative essay, we learned about rules in writing such as parallelism and comma usage to improve our Coming of Age paper.