When Tep Phearun graduated high school, the villagers in his hometown mocked him for wanting to move to Phnom Penh and pursue a university education.
“With your ability, it’s not appropriate,” they said. “You should stay here and apply to be a teacher.”
They were certainly surprised when he was accepted to Royal University of Law and Economics, back in 1996, where he pursued his Bachelor’s in Law.
Fresh from Prey Veng province, Phnom Penh was a stark change for Phearun. However, he embraced it with enthusiasm and eagerness.
Phearun graduated from university in 2000, and passed his entrance exam to study at Royal School of Administration to sit the Middle Ranking Official Course, which he passed in 2002. He was then posted at the Ministry of Interior.
With hard work and determination, Phearun passed the High Ranking Official Course in 2004, and was promoted within the Ministry.
After working his post for three years, Phearun was selected to be the Assistant to Secretary of State HE Prum Sokha in 2007.
At the same time, he was awarded a scholarship to pursue a Master’s in public policy under the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
During his work at the Ministry, Phearun has been on missions to countries across Asia.
In 2005, he spent five weeks in Japan overseeing the project of a village. In 2007, he went to the Philippines to attend a training course that focused on implementing aid projects in Cambodia. And in 2008, Phearun returned to Japan for a seminar on local administration with a focus on policy implementation.
Last year, Phearun traveled to Singapore to learn how their government works with the police force. Shortly thereafter, he attended a meeting in Vietnam about border security between Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
Phearun is now 32-years-old and satisfied with his achievements.
“Struggle and commitment is so important to overcome obstacles,” he said. “Encouragement is also important.”
“I always had encouragement from my family and my friends, so I was never lonely – friends are necessary to offer a bright light in times of darkness,” he said.
In the future, Phearun hopes to obtain an appropriate government position that will allow him to work in the provinces and aid the development of rural Cambodia.