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Study Objectives

After I have been spent six years in the academic communities of the Institute of Foreign Languages and Pannasastra
University of Cambodia, one thing is apparent: students and young people alike need both quality education and
effective socialization to help enhance their academia. As far as I am concerned, they are not equipped with the latter
yet. In fact, young people in Cambodia are not inclined to being socially active, particularly in environmental endeavor.
As an active student and lecturer, I understand that activities outside the classroom can be fun and at the same time
provide the best ground for students’ experimentation of their classroom learning.

Getting students and youths engaged in socio-environmental activities will greatly enhance their academic background
and sociable persona. Plus, it will implant in them the care and appreciation of the environment and ultimately
encourage them to become environmentally active members of the society promoting green livelihood. And this is what
I plan to conduct a research on: youths’ social participation in environmental advocacy and factors that enable them to
do so. The hypothesis is that, with the right channel of resources and proper training and incentives, young people will
become effective advocates of eco-friendly life.

Based on my experience in youth activeness across the Southeast Asian region, I have come to realize that young people
have a great potential in altering the course of human behavior towards a more sustainable living with great respect to
the environment. Similar to the global trend, Cambodia is encouraging its young people to take a leading role in
sustainable development. A major drawback, though, is that our young people do not possess required skills and
probably willingness to take such role. And this is what I intend to find out. I plan to carry out a study focusing on what
inhibits the young from being actively participative in upholding environmentally friendly behavior and what the root
cause(s) of this inhibition is/are.

I will take a look at political, economic, and particularly cultural factors which could play crucial roles in molding the
mindset of the young about their society. Furthermore, a comprehensive analysis of Asian cultures and politics will
permit me to better understand why they behave the way they do. After all, theories and practice of the research must be
culturally relevant to the Asian and Cambodian contexts. My network with other youths around Asia then could be of
great importance. Hopefully, the knowledge that I will have acquired from the Master of Environmental Studies will
hopefully get me ready for this academic undertaking.

Another aspect that I aim to explore is the varied activities and projects that trigger positive social participation among
the young. In other words, what can we do to make sure that youths cooperate with other stakeholders – including the
government, NGOs and private sector – in advocating eco-friendly policies and businesses? Young people need a
chance to show the others that they are capable of making a positive change. I will implore on the possibilities of
networking, lobby of policy, diversification of resources, and active volunteerism to devise methods that will empower
youths’ voice in the society. In this case, the diverse nature of the United States will serve as an essential cultural
laboratory for my finding the best culturally and politically appropriate projects that reinforce active youth
volunteerism. I have already seen through Southeast Asian youth delegates, particularly those from Thailand, Malaysia
and Singapore, that when young people receive proper support, they will excel and along the way learn to love what
they are doing. I intend to make Cambodian youths similarly motivated. That is, through my research, I hope to arrive at
a conclusive result that is both practical and beneficial for my work in Cambodia.

What I will have found in my research will be applied first to my students and CamYEN members since they already
possess basic qualities to kick of pilot projects. Through studied experimentation and trials and errors, I hope to reach
certain types of outcomes that will enhance my Master’s research and help me devise a more contextualized project. By
conducting mini surveys and pilot projects among students and environment-related NGOs and businesses, I could draw
a clearer picture of how these key players view the environment and youths’ initiatives so that together we can produce
better, more culturally relative eco-friendly policies for our country. The result of the research is also crucial for the eco-
community in that it will pave the way for other young socio-environmental advocates to conduct their own researches
in the hope of strengthening youths’ participation in the process of policy decision making.

Involvement from the government, business, local and international NGOs, and academic institutions in the pursuit of
an eco-friendly living is foreseen in the future when our young are ready to take a leading role and are confident that
they can do it. I am confident that I can do it. The time for young Cambodians to step into the spotlight and start
contributing to the betterment of their environment and country is coming. With the knowledge from the Master of
Environmental Studies and research, I am certain that I will possess the necessary skills in facilitating proper channeling
of resources and organizing activities that will empower youth’s involvement in the course of ensuring a sustainable
Cambodia.
Personal Statement

Six years ago, my mother asked me, “What university do you want to go to? And what do you want to do after you
graduate?” I just smiled and stayed quiet. I had no idea. I always tried to avoid discussing post-secondary education
with parents. I thought having a goal in life was too big a burden for a teenager like myself. However, it has been a
different story since then. The opposite holds true: life is unbearable without a goal. And I am content that I, among the
fortunate ones, for the past several years have set up a goal and devised a pathway to attain that goal.

As one expects, life at the university is no bed of roses. Students’ commitment, endurance, self-reliance, dependability,
and hard work are tested. Those who could not keep up get sorted out, whereas those who turn challenges into
opportunities for growth prosper. It is from these challenges that I have found the motivation to stay forward,
determined to become an achiever. As a student at the Institute of Foreign Languages (IFL), I thrived to excel in all the
subjects, hoping that the knowledge I gained from the study would prepare me for my social life. Indeed, I have learned
a lot. It is IFL that helps me start my journey toward realizing my goal. And then, when I started the other major at
Pannasastra University of Cambodia (PUC) in mid-2003, my goal got sharpened and my pathway more visualized. By
then, I already knew what I wanted to do.

While IFL gives me a chance to build a solid foundation for my future academic endeavor, PUC helps me put my
academia into real practice. At PUC, I have been exposed to various extracurricular activities that to some extent enable
me to build a stronger portfolio and streamline my goal. It is true I thrive to be an achiever, but an achiever in what?
After being involved in many environmental projects, I have the answer: an achiever in environmental advocacy. One
might wonders how such goal could be fulfilled by a student who majors in English at IFL and International Relations
at PUC.

Three different ingredients are mixed together to help me conjure the answer to the aforementioned question, with a
fourth one in sight to add the final touch. The first encompasses my excellent command of English – partial thanks to
my hard-working lecturers at IFL – which allows me to easily communicate with people across the globe. The second
entails my knowledge of political and economic behaviors of world leaders in making policies, shaping international
diplomacy and advocating social changes – compliments go to my study of International Relations at PUC. The third
involves my passion for green livelihood – I have always been interested in environment-related topics since the first
time I took Introduction to Environmental Science with
Dr. Anita Pattnaik at PUC.

I got the chance to try out my “trio” formula when I was on a conference trip to China in December 2006 to join the
East Asian Seas Youth Forum, and later on another trip to Bali, Indonesia, in December 2007 to participate in the 3rd
TUNZA-Southeast Asian Youth Environmental Network Conference. I was praised for my English, my understanding
of regional trends in political economy, and most importantly, my initiatives in advocating environmental awareness in
Southeast Asia through youth activities and projects. That was a good sign already. At the same time, I was also filled
with tremendous amount of information on what I as a young individual could do to better the environment of my
country. It was all much worth. Realizing that I could put what I had learned at IFL and PUC into actual practice to help
develop Cambodia was a sensation beyond
description.

In Cambodia, as an active youth advocating green consumerism and the sub-coordinator of the Cambodian Youth
Environmental Network (CamYEN), I have been involved in various projects dedicated to raising environmental
consciousness among Cambodian people from all walks of life. I joined the Environmental Debate Forum hosted by the
Ministry of Environment and led the PUC Debate Team to victory twice. I contributed an article to a Japanese magazine
discussing water issues in East Asia and Southeast Asia. And I recently helped manage a tree-planting event to
commemorate the World Environment Day. None of these activities bear financial incentives, but they are valuable in
that they serve as reminders that, yes, I can contribute to positive change in my society, that I can do something to make
my society environmentally friendly.

With more education, exposure, and opportunities, I certainly can do more. Indeed, I want to become an environmental
advocate, and I believe I possess the basic qualifications to be one. What I lack is the opportunity to further my
understanding of the environmental issues that pose challenges to the political, economic and cultural development of
my country, thus my applying for a Master of Environmental Studies in the United States through the Fulbright
Fellowship Program. Rich in human capital, cultural diversity, and environmental initiatives, the U.S. provides one of
the best grounds for the study of advocacy, public policy and, ultimately, environmental diplomacy. Who could ask for
more?

As a lecturer of Global Studies at IFL, I am certain that the knowledge and experience that I will have gained from the
Master of Environmental Studies will enable me to diversify my teaching and instill in my students a sense of care for
the environment and the community. Such gain will also give me rock-solid base to create numerous extracurricular
activities and projects for my students and IFL as a whole. Such student-based initiatives will definitely enhance
students’ understanding of their surroundings and appreciation of their environment, and eventually prove the quality
education that IFL can provide. Everyone in the English Language Teaching (ELT) community agrees that learning
should be both serious and fun. IFL has been working very hard to ensure the former; and with my outgoing
personalities, professionalism, and broad knowledge from the Master of Environmental Studies, I am confident that I
can ensure both the former and the latter. This combination will hopefully contribute to IFL’s success in producing some
of the best, well-rounded
IFL graduates who will join hands in developing Cambodia and safeguard the country’s bright future.

With good regional networks, qualified environmental education, and strong commitment for the betterment of both the
lives of the Cambodian people and the green environment, I strongly believe that my goal can be achieved. And I am
even more honored to know that IFL, PUC, and hopefully Fulbright have shared this accomplishment with me. I am
content that I finally have the answer to my mother’s question, and I am determined to stay true to that answer to the
best of my potential.