It is pretty common to hear about Cambodian students winning international competitions in mathematics or physics. However, many would be surprised to hear about one young high school student who managed to get an award in the field of earth science, a subject that does not get much support in the Kingdom.
Oy Thaily, a 17-old-year high school student at Hun Sen Kostom, was assigned by the ministry to enter the fourth International Earth Science Olympia in Indonesia. He recently became one of two Cambodian students who managed to win a medal at the competition.
His shock win led many to wonder how Oy Thaily could successfully compete with foreign students from developed countries, while in Cambodia earth science is a subject which has not received much attention or enough support from the ministry and it also requires modern equipment for the students.
Apart from his bronze medal win, Oy Thaily already had many years of experience and has taken part in both national and international competitions. In 2008, because of his outstanding efforts in his physics classes, Oy Thaily was assigned by his teacher to take an exam and after that he was named the top physics student in Cambodia.
In the same year when he was in grade 9, he also flew to South Korea to take in the fifth International Junior Science Olympiad. He also gained experience by taking part in the 41st International Physics Olympiad in Croatia. Even though he didn’t receive any awards, he says he never gave up trying.
Oy Thaily explained that those experiences offered him some very crucial self-development changes and he is now able to know his weaknesses and has the chance to improve them.
A very determined person, Oy Thaily say as students we should not give up trying to achieve something. He explained that some people used to think that it was not possible for him to win an earth science competition because the subject requires some modern equipment in order to learn it.
“The essential thing to being an outstanding student is trying hard to self-study”, he said, adding that we also have to listen as much as possible when learning with teachers.
In terms of his difficulties, Oy Thaily also said that to win a bronze medal in the subject of earth science was very hard for him. He explained that there were some steps in the completion, like writing or experimental sections, and all the sections were presented in English.
“I don’t even know what an exact telescope looks like and how to use it, so it was just the first time for me when I was in the competition”, he said, highlighting his difficulties in the earth science competition.
“If I knew about that kind of equipment, I think I might not have only won a bronze medal.”