By Sophearith Dareth
Personally, when I think of someone who is inspiring in my life, my mind immediately goes straight to the people who have given me advice, who are doing what they love, being themselves, seeking wisdom and especially those who are not hesitant to share their knowledge with others.
Sokcheng is someone who checks off everything on my list. She used to be my English teacher 4 years ago, and I have been inspired by her ever since.
Now, she is a translator, a writer and a blogger. She has a business degree and is currently pursuing another degree in English at the Institute of Foreign Languages (IFL). She has also been volunteering in many different fields, especially education and environment.
Since the beginning of this year you have been invited to talk in many different events. For instance, the Impact Talk: Women of Impact, Women of Social Media for Social Impact, and “Live your Passion” workshop for AIESEC. What have all these experiences been like for you?
It’s interesting because just two weeks ago I was actually invited to speak about blogging and the curious mindset. It really made me think. In terms of event I have been a participant, an organizer, and a translator. However, this was the first time I was treated as a speaker. Therefore, it was not a hard work for me. As long as you prepare your speech, it is okay. I was relaxing, looking at people and waiting for my session. What I learned is that people, especially the younger ones, want to know about your personal journey. They’re interested in the ideas of the speakers but they’re also interested in how the speakers acquire those ideas. Also, people are really interested in blogging now because they want a platform to express themselves.
You recently just finished the “កខគ”project, which I personally think is a really great idea. Can you tell me what it is exactly and how did you come up with the idea?
So “កខគ” is a very small project that shows the short biography and short extracts of Khmer authors alphabetically from “ក” to “អ”. It’s not just profiling but it also features the painting of the authors.
So, I came up with the idea when I was reading a few books like “វីរៈជនខ្មែរ”(Vireak Jun Khmer) and “កវីនិពន្ធខ្មែរសតវត្សទី២០”(Khmer authors during the 20th Century). I was reading about all these people in the past, and realized I’ve never learned about them. I thought “maybe my friends would want to know about them too”. Moreover, since I am a visual person, it helps when I have a picture of someone and I like painting. I was also very moved by ”អាចារ្យហែមជៀវ” (Ajar Hem Jeav). I was reading about him and there was this picture of him that I’ve never seen before. So, I was moved to just sketch him out and I thought maybe I can do this to other people too. However, there are so many people, and I thought “So how do I choose?”. That’s when I decided that I will choose them alphabetically but in Khmer alphabet “កខគ”. So that’s how it was born.
What were the objectives behind this project? Did you start it out to raise awareness about Khmer authors in History?
Yes, that was one of the objectives but my main objective was that I just wanted to do a little bit of research. This is actually my own journey. I just want to get to know more about all these authors. But then the byproduct is that I can share it to people too.
So now we have come to my favorite part. Let’s talk about your blog Ms. Cheng’s Corner. What is the story behind this blog and how did it come to life?
I started it out four years ago as something a little personal and wrote about what I love. I didn’t know that people would read it. But then people, particularly my friends, read it. And it hit me that it can become public. So when America legalized gay marriage and there were positive and negative reactions. I was then moved to write a blog in Khmer just to provide evidence. The blog is called “ទើសឥន្ធនូ”. You can actually see how angry I was. People were sharing and at one point there are acquaintances coming up to me and asked me about the blog. So, I was wowed by that and I realized that this can be a public blog to provide ideas. After that my content becomes less personal and more idea focused.
The blog also has a lot of different categories ranging from “thoughts on society” to “relationship”. My favorite one is the “self-improvement”. My question to you is that where do you get your inspiration from?
Most of the time, I get information from what I’m reading. However, there are a few blogs that I follow. I follow three blogs including “the art of manliness” which content is mostly based on self-development, “brain pickings” is owned by an awesome girl who reads a lot and links ideas together in her blog and “study in style” which is a humorous Tumblr blog with deep analysis.
Through this constantly expanding platform that you have, what are some of the important messages that you hope to get across to your readers?
I have been thinking about that too actually. In terms of branding, I blog but there’s nothing you can tell exactly what I blog about. Then later, I have come to a conclusion that I write about what makes your life more meaningful. It can be from journaling, research or any concept. They all appear to be different, but they are all in the theme of how do you have a more meaningful existence. All the blogs, except the personal ones, but especially in self-improvement are about questioning. My message is, “Question everything that you do. Question everything around you.” Questioning is the first step and then you can think of your answers as well as listen to other people. What are their answers? And have the ideas pit against each other until you come to a better understanding. Be curious. They all will end up making your life more meaningful.
So we have covered a lot. Do you have anything to add? What would you say to the Voices of Youth readers out there?
Be Curious. Don’t take anything at face value. Try to pay attention and dig deep into anything. Just keep asking yourself and asking people’s assumption. If society tells you to do one thing, just ask why. Why should I and why shouldn’t I? Have that in mind and talk to people who are also questioning the same thing so that you can gain ideas. Blogging is also a very good platform. I have met people who share the same idea and found me through my blog. If you don’t think you have any wisdom yet, asking and being curious is the first step. And blog or talk about it so that you can expose your idea to other people to see whether it is right or wrong or to change people as well as changing yourself.
A very special thank to Sokcheng Seang for being my interviewee and for being so inspiring. Check out her amazing blog Ms. Cheng’s Corner.
Find out more about the “កខគ” project on Sokcheng’s Facebook profile.
Views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of UNICEF.