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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Youth of the week: Banung Ou

Youth of the week: Banung Ou

Being a scout and an outstanding student during high school caused Tep Sokpanha, 21, to get the chance to fly to six different countries in Asia. “It is not only luck, but also ability and I tried really hard to get that,” Sokpanha said.

Sokpanha was not really any different from the only child in other families, but she was a bit of a coward in her childhood. However, since she started being an exchange student, it changed her completely. “I did feel nervous and uncomfortable whenever I was asked to talk to my teacher. On the contrary, after I had been involved in many activities in society, I changed my manners a lot. I do know that our lives are really meaningful,” she explained.

Sokpanha is now a senior majoring in finance and banking at the Royal University of Laws and Economics and a year two English literature student at the Institute of Foreign Languages. After becoming a scout for about two years, Sokpanha first packed her suitcase and went abroad at the age of 15.

“It was great and amazing. Of course I felt some kind of worry, but I had to let her go,”    Tep Saril, Sokpanha’s father, said. “She was actually really little but I strongly believed in her.”

In 2005 Sokpanha went to Thailand to attend the Neighbouring Country Youth Camp and the 25th Asia Pacific Scout Jamboree for 15 days. In 2007, she joined the ASEAN Youth Development Exchange Programme in India. Then in 2008 in Vietnam she attended the Cambodia-Vietnam Youth meeting. In 2009 she went to Malaysia and participated in the Malaysia Technical Cooperation Programme. In 2010, she attended both the International Youth Development Exchange Programme in Japan and the 3rd ASEAN Scout Jamboree in Singapore.

Sokpanha said she had these opportunities after getting information from the Youth Department and also from friends who used to attended these programmes. Social networking is extremely important, but her parents’ emotional support was also a big part of her achievements.

“Anyway, it is not so easy to handle two majors at the same time, especially when I went on missions to each country. For sure, I always need to ask permission from both schools. And after I got back I tried so hard to study. I spent more time on my studies and kept asking my mates when I did not understand something,” she added.

Sokpanha wants to work for either an international or local non-governmental organization, or whichever can improve the ability of youth in Cambodia. She hopes to work at a bank as well and is studying hard.

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