Not just my family members and I, every Cambodian citizen is the victim of genocide, the act which took the lives of around two million Cambodian citizens. One can say that this is the curse that all Cambodians were to experience while the others might say that it is our sin or karma. The war ended, and my family had to start from the scratch all over again. I did not really know how hard my grandparents had to go through to raise four children, but I experienced growing up living in a one-storey flat which was the shelter of at least ten family members.
Unlike the other kids, I rarely saw my parents since my father had to work far away from home, and my mother was still pursuing her Bachelor Degree in Biology. I spent most of my childhood with my grandparents. My grandmother would always tie me behind her back to the hospital where she is still working as a retired doctor while my grandfather is a retired administrative staff of the same hospital, and was a former Lon Nol’s air force.
I can still remember how I envied some of my childhood friends whom I called “Rich Kids”. During my very first day at school, my classmates were showing off their new bags, yet I only had a black plastic bag to store my books and pencils. The other kids were mocking that I did not even have a bag to carry my books to school. I was a quiet kid, and I chose to remain silent. I came back home, and told my grandmother that I wanted a bag. It took her around a week or two to buy me a yellow used bag which cost around 1000 Riels or less. Though it was a used bag, I hugged my bag with joy.
I was a kid from the province, and I did not have a chance to go to expensive language schools like some other kids. Due to financial constraint, my parents had to send me to the language schools nearby. I never did well in English class. I was the worst student in my English class. Luckily, my parents were better-off, and they sent me to an international school. It is the place that changed my life. From a language student who never did well in class, I have now become a teacher of English. From a student who copied the whole reading text to submit to the teacher as a writing assignment, and got zero for plagiarizing, I have now won four national writing awards.
Again, March and April this year have marked another turning point of the life of this country kid. I was slapping my face to see whether it was a dream or reality. I used to be rejected by the 26th ranking university in Asia, yet I got admitted and have been given a full scholarship to do a Master Degree at the second- best university in Asia which is one among the top universities in the world, and at the same time, I was also among the citizens of five Southeast Asian nations to be offered a full scholarship to pursue a Master Degree at one of the wealthiest universities in Europe.
I failed once or twice, and it does not mean that I would always fail. I believe that life is full of possibilities. Life tests us to see how patient and how determined we are. Life does not kill us, but it teaches us. With hope and commitment, I believe that a person can make positive change to his or herself and to the society.
“I like the night. Without the dark, we’d never see the stars.” ― Stephenie Meyer, Twilight