By Bong Chansambath
Hi! My name is Bong Chansambath. Some people call me “Kmao”, which means a person with dark skin in Khmer language. I am twenty-two years old. I have recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Paññāsāstra University of Cambodia (PUC). Currently, I am working full time as Secretary-General of the Fulbright and Undergraduate State Alumni Association of Cambodia (FUSAAC), an association of Cambodian students who went on exchange programs sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. Besides that, I have been working as a part-time political writer at POLITIKOFFEE since late-2015. Politikoffee is a youth-based, non-partisan forum that works to gather young people to discuss politics and other vital issues facing Cambodia and the world today. I have written stories on Cambodian politics and human rights. Topics of global affairs such as humanitarian intervention, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), mass atrocity prevention and diplomacy are also areas of interest for me. To keep myself afloat, I have occasionally worked as a freelance translator with international documentary film-makers.
More importantly, I used to work as a national intern with the Nuon Chea Defence Counsel at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) (or the Khmer Rouge Tribunal) in early 2017. I spent most of my time there conducting research on international criminal law, analyzing factual evidences and witness testimonies in case 002/02 and providing assistance to co-lawyers and legal consultants.
Over the past four years, I have extensively competed in and won a number of debate and public speaking competitions in Cambodia, many of which earned me awards. I have touched on a wide range of topics concerning Cambodia such as human trafficking, minimum wage for garment workers, women empowerment and leadership, corruption, industrialization, agricultural policies, and educational reform. The most recent example is the Model Prime Ministerial Debate 2016 hosted by the U.S. Ambassador’s Youth Council (U.S.AYC), where I won 1st place.
I am a non-fiction type of reader. I read only political, historical, philosophical and economics books. Romance, drama and fiction stories are not on my “To-Read” genre list. I have deep interests in history of Democratic Kampuchea, its rise and fall, and American politics. I have read, watched and blogged stories about the Pol Pot regime, Donald Trump, and the U.S. Congress.
I am a firm believer in free speech and freedom of expression in every form or means. I believe in a democracy where every individual gets to say what he or she thinks is right, and the exchange of different ideas and debates are highly encouraged among people of all ages, especially young tech-savvy population, who are in no doubt the backbone of this country.
I am happy to be a part of this year’s Voices of Youth Blogging Internship at UNICEF. I believe this is going to be an exciting and thought-provoking journey for young Cambodian bloggers. It is great to meet few old friends like Vantha, who was my colleague at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, and Sotharoth from the Phnom Penh Model UN 2016. That being said, I am also thrilled to meet many new friends, whom I believe will have a lot for me that I can learn from. Most importantly, without any expectation, I am glad to finally meet sister Kounila, whom I heard a lot about, as a mentor. I look forward to working and learning with everyone! Cheers!
Views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of UNICEF.