In life, there is no turning back, and there is not a clear sight of what the future is going to look like, this means I have to trust myself that every facet that I have invested for the last 15 years will help fulfill my dream- changing Cambodia. My family would always advise me that I should focus on academics and aim for a perfect grade. However, the first step at Liger changed my perception of education forever. The first year, I swam 100 meters. The second year, I camped in the forest. The third year, I built an ecotourism model. The fourth year, I delivered a Ted talk about the seriousness of sea level rise. The fifth year, I hosted a climate change summit to over 100 young leaders from around the country. The sixth year, I won third place in a university-level business competition. As the year went by, I have been developing my confidence from getting my feet in the water to able to swim in the ocean. I have become an innovative, entrepreneurial, and perceptive change-agent that was gained through collaboration, passion, grit, and dot-connecting.

I hear the term “change-agent” everyday and everywhere; I described a change-agent as people who influence others to achieve certain goals. The more I learn how to become a change agent, the more I realize who I am as a change-agent. I would describe myself as an inclusive change agent; I love to make everyone feel more included. For example, one morning, during the dinosaur investigation field trip, we took the opportunity to share our experiences with open-minded students to become more aware of their learning resources. I thought the best means to get to them understand is through project-based learning; therefore, I decided to present the kids about project-based learning through three lenses: creativity, simplicity, and reliability. I led a discussion about creative techniques to approach challenging problems, creative techniques to ask critical questions, and creative techniques to turn wild imaginations into accountable solutions. Afterward, the students brought up three points for discussion: breaking social norms in their society, adjusting education curriculum in their school, and following their dream. The whole discussion was amazing; we got to learn a lot from each other and immediately I saw students show their leadership skill by encouraging their fellows’ classmates to get out of their comfort zone. I did not intend to teach them what to do, but my goal is to inspire them to take their own path. Just like Anne Isabella said, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” Teaching them it is not enough, inspiring and unlocking their fullest potential is a more worthwhile strategy. Another quote from Dr. Maya Angelou said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Therefore, I wanted them to immediately feel that “Leader is made, not born!”

I heard people said over and over again, “The only way to learn the new thing is to engage.” While I tried to make an impactful influence in regard to my country, simultaneously I also need to strengthen my personality and academy. I believed that the only way to get more comfortable and ready to face the world is to engage as much as I can. To strengthen my entrepreneurial knowledge, me along with two other change-makers decided to participate in a Business Model Competition (BMC). BMC is a college-level business competition; Because of our team effort and great focus, we came 2nd-runner-up out of approximately 120 teams around Cambodia. The achievements were amazing; the learning from our team’s mistakes, experts in the fields, and the challenges from competition have made me a more powerful, more innovative, and a more conscious leader in this field. This was myself engage in the field I cared about, but this year, I had forced myself to participate in courses and events that I normally do not do. Nilroth – one of my family member at the Liger Leadership Academy – said: “You have to be uncomfortable to be comfortable.” Music, art, filming was all the things that have never encourage me to learn, but I had always been very appreciative. So, I determined to engage in Khmer Song Lyrics and Humanity talk show, researched about the philosophy behind Leonardo Da Vinci artworks, produced a commercials video for a MoneyTree – financial literacy company. I got to grasp new traditional dances, difference technique composers in the 60s use to produce a long-lasted song, techniques in creating an effective storyboard, and techniques to shoot a high-quality footage. As one can see, I don’t have to lead to be a leader, the follower is also a leader. Motivate me to face these uncertainties will prepare into a better equip leader.  

“The most important thing in life is not about beauty, but it about the meaning behind it.” I tried to do and learn a lot of things with purpose and with long-clear vision.  As my experiences and my depth of thought growth, I was able to better dot connect my skills to solve or create more. For me, creativity is just the collection of ideas. As an example, I dedicated more than 15 hours to learned about GIS (Global Information System), because I know that I going to use it for my day-to-day route tracking, my technological feature for my ROV, and my mapping detail skill. I have a vision that technology will be a big trend in Cambodia in the next 20 years. Therefore, as I’m the change-agent, I need to be ready to raise awareness and face the upcoming world. In addition to the growth of technology, I believe that community sharing concept will also be a common routine in the next 20 years. With a clear vision, strong confident, and manageable risk-taking, I had built two programmes that future will help my nation. We local, a platform that brings tourists who are looking for food around Cambodia to experience the real Cambodian food that is freshly cooked, and an underwater submarine, a machine that can capture underwater footage and marine survey, both involve in high-tech technology, community sharing, and citizen science. Another example, I was able to use my ap statistic course knowledge to conduct a professional survey that analyses the effect CamKids organization have toward the three villages surrounding it. One closed look of the report leads to one vision and one big idea. From the data in the report, I saw that wedding and other traditional ceremonies are one of the biggest expense for a family and not many enjoyed it. As a change agent, I’m always looking ahead to what I can change and solve to make my country a better place.

Passion-follow-engagement and dot-connecting are what I called secondary skills; but, what is the primary skill that helps to build my past achievements? And have ones ever wonder why do some individuals accomplished more than other? The answer is GRIT. GRIT has become a mainstay of who I am today. GRIT is passion and perseverance for long-term and meaning goals, as developed by Angela Duckworth. GRIT is the combination of 5 characteristics: optimism, creativity, confidence, resilience, and robustness. GRIT is the ingredient that separates a successful leader, entrepreneur, student from people surrounding them. A lot of the times visionary ideas blossomed out of me; even though I tried to experiment those ideas with the right operations, right people, and right questions, I still have a high chance of failing. However, a quote from Robin Sharma always stuck in my brain, “Your “I can” is more important than your IQ.” For instance, in the Bambojaya exploration, I wrote supplements education material involved STEAM and creativity for a private school named Bambojaya. For the first week, many of my materials were plain, boring, lack of creativity, and lack of problem-solving. After the meeting, every night, I read the government textbook to get information about each topic and experiment with my roommates about my add-ons to get feedback. Because I persisted enough to learn from my flaws and bounce back with a smart plan to fix it, I was able to create exceptional works throughout the project. The one trait that I value myself the most is that I learned not to take failure as a distraction, but take it as an opportunity to grows. I believed that this mindset will bring success beyond talent.