It has been four years, seeing and working with the stupendous Liger’s students in each and every project-based learning Exploration. “Creating a brighter future by realizing the potential of a promising child,” the most significant motto of the Liger Leadership Academy. About four months ago, I was introduced into a new supplementary Exploration system. Myself and the other seven students were told that we will be working with eight youths from the government schools, and it will only be in Khmer, our native language. Hearing it from my teacher on the first day of the exploration was a revelation.
Within one week of the exploration, the shocking news started to make more sense, the thoughts illuminate. Well, we were soon told that those students are extraordinary and they are the future change agents of Cambodia, similar to the Liger’s students. They are the chosen one among hundreds of students to be the leader of their community youth club.
Working with them would be my honor.
About three months ago, our team was scheduled to have one of the first meetings with the youths. From what I’ve heard, I expected them to be active, creative, thoughtful, and funny. I was right. But, I couldn’t really see the shining beacon in them. In reality, they seem to be scared of us: shy, silence, introverted, and nervous.
Maybe it was just the first sight interpretation. It was hidden deep inside. By cooperating with them, quality behaviours and bright characteristics started to leak out. They are smart, enthusiastic, caring, funny, pleasant, sincere, trustworthy, and cautious. They are truly the future change agents. However, they’re lack in experience. They stumble upon the barrier of executing the proper process and procedure, and thus, we will be their assistant, filling out the gaps with guidance and support. We will fabricate the key to unlock their potential.
In our exploration, we are working toward the essential goal of spreading the awareness of drug prevention with the vision of creating new hope for the Cambodian people. The final achievements that we want to accomplish are to create a video that is about the disturbance of family happiness due to drug and to offer workshops about it in four provinces: Kampot, Kampong Speu, Svay Rieng, and Prey Veng.
Like other nations, drug is an unsolvable issue in Cambodia. In 2014, almost 20 thousand Cambodian had been reported to be associated with drug, and based on the National Authority For Combating Drug, a better estimation of the number would require us to multiply it by 5. In accordance to the report from the provinces, written by the youths, around 10% of the people in their community are involved in drug, those who aged between 15-35 years old.
The journey to carve the key to unlock their potential began with going on field trips. We were planned to go to two different places, the National Authority For Combating Drug and the Drug Addict Relief Association of Cambodia.
Part of the process, we need to brainstorm questions. It is quite new to most of them. Asking the right questions is very important in term of gathering the correct and precise information. For the first trip, we had guided them through those steps and for the second trip, they did it all by themselves. Their questions are valid, thoughtful, and open.
“What has been changed before and after living in this relief center?”
“What are some challenges you had faced in trying to detached drug?”
“What would you do after leaving this center?”
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Drug prevention is such an immense topic to talk about and it would take more than seven weeks for the project to construct a fundamental foundation. We want to see the promising youth to carry on with this project after the period of this Exploration.
Throughout the exploration, throughout the time that I’ve spent with the students, and throughout the past seven weeks, I had recognized that I had been a better collaborator, problem-solver, and a more empathetic person. I had gained more confidence in breaking the silence. I had tried to motivate people to share their opinions, and I will always be the one that listens to my fullest, not to respond back.
I learned how to face problems without putting myself in a risky position. I had learned to use the resources surrounded me effectively. “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can,” by Arthur Ashe. Your friends, your teachers, your family, and your communities, use them as creative as possible to solve those issues. Using them effectively is the key and if the only tool you have is a hammer, don’t treat all problems as a nail. I had learned the way to use my imagination and open my mind to the possibilities.
Lastly, the unsplittable bond had been built between the students and I. Even though they stayed at our school for only a week, we had already constructed memories that lasted forever. I had learned to quickly adapt to strangers and I had learned the different ways to approach them without harming their physical and mental. I had learned to be self-aware of my surrounding. I am able to see people from their eyes, listen from their ears and feel them from their heart.
After one week, the new change agents are returning back to their community, bringing back the positive and hopeful impact. They are ready to create changes and influence their community. They now have the potential to create more positive impacts, and thus, fish for a lifetime. I believe in the action of exchanging experience. Like plants, I am the main source, dispersing experience to different places as a supporter to the other change agents. I establish change through creating more change agents.