Channy is the first ever student from Koh Ker Village (and the Srayang Secondary School Dormitory) to enroll in University. She’s just finished her first year in Phnom Penh,  and she wants to tell you all about it! 

“In the first year that I’ve been living in Phnom Penh I’ve experienced so many new things. It’s been different than what I expected before coming here. In fact, before coming here I really didn’t like this city because it made me feel uncomfortable – the people, the traffic and the lifestyle are so different. But after living here, it’s much better than I thought. I will describe how my mind has changed about Phnom Penh, before I came compared to now.

My first experience in Phnom Penh was one that will be familiar to many. When I first arrived at the place where I would be living, suddenly I began to cry uncontrollably. I remember that day, I cried so hard but I didn’t know why I was crying. I’m not sure if it was because I was homesick, but I don’t think that’s why, since I left home since I was in Grade 7. But it seemed like I was alone on this earth. When I called home I could only speak a few words to my mum before I started crying. My mum was really scared that I would run away back home. Thankfully, nothing is difficult forever and 3 or 4 days later I felt better.

I had to wait for nearly 2 months until it was time to start studying. Soon it was the first day of University for me and 7 of my housemates, we all rode our bicycles to school.  What they say about people coming from the countryside to the city, isn’t wrong. I felt scared of everything. When I arrived in the classroom the teacher announced that they were choosing a class leader. At the time, I didn’t know what to think, but in spite of that I decided to stand for class leader. A funny story from that first day was when it came to the vote, the only votes that I got were from my 7 housemates! From day to day things got easier and easier, my friends and family really helped to lift my spirits.

Channy, left, with her fellow first year PLF University scholars in Phnom Penh

One thing that I’ve vowed to do is that I need to work to get to know Phnom Penh better. I also started to participate in workshops and social events where important people share their experience and information about educational opportunities. Those events were really eye opening for me; both the way of thinking and the analysis of national and international news events, although my understanding is still limited. One thing that really surprised me and that I really appreciate about living in this city is the large number of events in comparison to Siem Reap. I was shocked, this is something I dreamed of participating in while I was living in Siem Reap and now I’ve achieved it. For example meeting social analysts, heads of human rights NGOs and heads of different NGOs too. Living here has opened my eyes to so many job opportunities and especially introduced a new concept for me, of being open to trying new things.

My dream is to finish a 4-year bachelor degree of Law and to work as a journalist for an established institution. However, I don’t want to stop studying, I want to continue to study abroad for a masters degree in journalism if I can. Right now, even though I can’t do a lot to help the young people in my village, I think that I can set a good example for them in what they can achieve with education. I love education because it can change people from negative to positive thinkers and can make the nation prosper.”

For more on Channy, watch this video about her story!  Or read more about another University student, Bunpha, and his story!