Final Bus Ride

By Sreynet Chem

©Sreynet Chem

This blog was developed as part of the Voices of Youth blogging internship assignment requirement. Views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of UNICEF.

It’s 12:56 in the afternoon on October 4th. The clock is ticking forward while I’m scribbling this final note as a Local Voices of Youth blogger. It’s painstaking to let it sink in because why would one admit to let go of something she sewed herself into?

I remember turning up on the first day at the UNICEF office. I got lost! How typical. It’s safe to say navigating is not my merit point from many experiences including this one. I find this embarrassing since there was a sign that read “UNICEF Cambodia” and I was too anxious inside to even notice the sign right at the corner of my eye. It took me quite some time to reach the office. Thanks to anxiety, I was once again in another awkward situation with.. the security guard. It was as horrifying as it sounds. After sorting the tense moment, I walked into the office with my whole body trembling — just social anxiety things. First day of meeting new people was tough, but I really found myself in a position I’ve always wanted to be.

The internship was one of the greatest chances that came knocking on my door. I learned a lot of things on the first day. I learned that none of us like politics. Whenever any one of us brought up the topic, some of us would scrunch up our nose. Makara was the one who furrowed her brows the whole time or maybe it’s just her normal expression. The best part of the day was that everyone was fueled with enthusiasm to share their perspectives on global issues. I could just sit there being myself and listen to them all day talking about what they believe to matter.

VoY is a microphone (fifth blog reference FTW) for youth to scream out what’s inside their heads. That was something I could see from writing my own blog posts and reading my team’s. I’ve never met anyone as brave as Rathana. His blogs managed to magnetize the emotions out of his readers. Instead of pinching a world issue and make comments on it, he created a looking glass into a boy’s life. He told his stories through his own arrangement of words. His stories shed a light to domestic violence victims and the LGBT community. These are the issues that should’ve been pressed by youths a long time ago. Neath’s posts also showed the readers many overlooked problems in society. She picked a stone and polished it clean into a diamond. I admire Neath for giving a limelight to a corner that no one is bothered enough to look at. She talked about littering and the cost that came along with it. Littering has been a big issue in the country, but as time goes on, it develops into a boring topic and gets “tossed away” by the citizens. And Neath, she did her part and restores faith in Cambodian citizens.

Throughout these two fruitful months, I can confirm that my biggest challenges in this blogging internship are none other than additional information research and grammar. Someone definitely saw this sentence coming. If anyone follows my blogs, they will see my effort in straying away from statistical information. My first blog Comfort Zone Away, A Dream Ready at Bay was my self-introduction as an intern. Social Anxiety 101 was a better close-up to who I am. The open letter was treated as a conversation between me and the people I’ve met in life. Meanwhile, my fourth blog, which indicates the importance of being a feminist, was a bump on the road. Profoundly, this topic is important to both women and men, but for some reasons, I let myself down with it. I was disappointed by the gap I was not able to fill in due to my lack of researching skill. That was also the moment I promised myself to make amends to it with the fifth blog. I made up my mind and sought solace from creativity; hence, A Story of Hope.

Being my favorite part of the entire blogging journey, A Story of Hope was an opportunity that allowed me to stop and take a look around me. It gave me a map to explore the contemporary world and have my words shed light on it through writing. The story itself was written in just one evening before I got off to a trip with my high school friends, so I did expect it to be sort of dross. In fact, I had foreseen my fifth blog to bring the creativity out of me, but I hadn’t planned it to be an overview on poverty. I’d absolutely seen myself being coaxed into hovering over traffic concern. But as time was running out and my patience was wearing thin along with it, I decided to do a little tracing back.

I guided myself back to last December where I saw this lonely granny. Indeed, the story was somehow a little dedication to her and other people who live a life of complete anonymity. The narration of the story was inspired by one of my favorite books, The Book Thief, which also reflects the fragility of a group of people. Like I said, the fifth blog is something rather special to me — someone who loves creative writing — and to the people living in poverty. I loved it so much and I hope everyone liked it, too!

Everything is bound to find its ending point. Maybe except for my anxiety — a relentless burden I have to carry around everyday. On the last day of the meeting, I was quite surprised. I was notified out of the blue that it was our final meeting. And that could only mean one thing: I’ll never see VoY team again. Not until I have a proper reason to. I have to say I was saddened by the fact that I wouldn’t be able to sit and listen to everyone complaining about world matters and see myself being defensive over a certain topic again. I’m going to miss feeling traumatized by the yellow highlight I received on my drafts for the sake of my writing clarity. I’m going to miss everyone involved in this remarkable journey.

Local Voices of Youth is a timeless experience one could playback like a film inside their head. It is not just about you sharing what you’ve been holding to the whole world. On this beautiful bus ride, your eyes are opened to many new views you’ve never seen before. Many stories have been told by a group of strangers you did not expect to befriend with in such a short amount of time. All of you work hand in hand toward something you believe to be important to your society.

On this ride, you will learn tips and tricks on how to work on your writing. You will get comments on how to improve it. You will learn how to share your stories in a variety of ways. You will learn how to reach out to your audience. And you will without a doubt learn many other things about your surroundings and the world itself. But the only thing they won’t be teaching you on this bus ride is how to accept the fact your journey has come to an end. You will reach your stop and take off the bus. My name is Sreynet. I was once a blogger of Local Voices of Youth. And I have reached my stop.

Originally posted on Thursday, October 27, 2016

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