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In his first two years at university, Hok Chan Makara had no idea what he wanted to do in the future. He was studying just to please his friends and parents, his marks in class were unimpressive and he hesitated to share his exam scores with his friends.
Today, as a fourth-year student in English education at the Institute of Foreign Languages and a fifth-year electrical major at Preak Kossamak Polytechnic Institute, he has moved on from his uninspired past to establish himself as a successful and hard-working student. As a testament to his newfound work ethic, he recently received a fellowship to go to Hong Kong to discuss politics and economics with youth from Asia and America through a programme funded by The Fund for American Studies (TFAS), in cooperation with the Asia Institute Political Economy (AIPE) in Hong Kong (for more info, visit tfasinternational.org/aipe/about/).
“I never expected to be able to attend this programme,” said the winner of a three-week trip to Hong Kong, adding that he plans to put his best stuff forward to represent Cambodia at the international conference.
The 22-year-old is one of eight Cambodian youths who won the fellowship for the political economics discussion this year, and one of 65 youths from 15 nations who will be meeting to share ideas about how to solve the problems plaguing the world’s economy today.
Despite his slow start in higher education, Hok Chan Makara is now confident and committed to putting forward the effort to overcome more challenges. Besides having strong scores in school in recent years, he also says that his social activism helped him get the invitation to Hong Kong.
Hok Chan Makara has been involved in many volunteer projects as a translator at Habitat for Humanity and Black T-shirt Volunteer at the CamTESOL workshop. “My (volunteering) have only lasted a short time, but I have gained more knowledge and experience from them,” he explained.
“Setting the right goals is very important for me,” said Hok Chan Makara, who wants to be a professional English teacher in the future. “Do not lose hope in your efforts. Do everything you can before you give up. Stick to your goals and reach them even if you see 10 tigers in front of you.”
He added: “Students who get the chance to study abroad have well-planned strategies to win fellowships or scholarships while the others just have the idea in their mind.”