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Taking your chances

STUDENT VOICES

By Yi longdy

Yi Longdy. MARK ROY

We are often told that opportunities are out there, flying in front of us - but they can quickly disappear if not readily grabbed.

They exist in many forms, including scholarships to study abroad, international exchange programmes, international conferences and forums, free local training schemes and seminars, and voluntary work. And if seized, these opportunities can provide the experience, knowledge, and understanding necessary to prepare for a better life, one where the doors are held wide open with ever more opportunities.

Unfortunately, only a minority of Cambodian youth seem to be taking advantage of their chances. Although there are still many openings that come and go without me realising them, I try to benefit from as many that come my way as possible.

It is sometimes annoying to see friends looking regretful once they see others accepted into coveted scholarships. I imagine them thinking, "I should have applied for that; it should have been me to get it."

But it is not so much differences in ability that allows one person to proudly go study in the US on a scholarship, for example,  while another remains in the country, clinging onto an ordinary life. What leads people down different paths is that some, when opportunities come, dare to go for it, while others don't.

In 2008, I seized an opportunity to visit and study in the US for 5 weeks; many others were afraid to take the step, apparently feeling the prize was out of their league.

Participating gave me a deeper understanding of American politics, government, culture and leadership, and created many other opportunities, two of which I grabbed firmly.

First, I volunteered to work for the Outstanding Youth Group of Cambodia, which promotes youth interests and social affairs. There I learned to work with others for the good of society, widened my social network, and gained many memories and experience. Second, I became the University of Cambodia's local committee president of AIESEC, an international student group that organises international exchange programs.

As president, I encountered many new challenges as my team and I navigated testing situations, helping me learn effective leadership skills and improve my business savvy - exactly what I needed to complement my undergraduate studies.

As a young person in a developing country like Cambodia, it is not enough to simply live life. We have to go beyond a routine, normal way of life and go for something new, dynamic and challenging - something ambitious that can only come from stepping  up to the task.

These amazing opportunities, which can change our lives forever, are there under our nose - if only we start to look for them.

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Yi Longdy is a third-year English for education major at the Royal University of Phnom Penh’s Institute of Foreign Languages and a second-year business administration student at Pannasastra University of Cambodia (PUC). He is also PUC’s AIESEC committee president. To share your thoughts on education and careers in Cambodia, email careers@phnompenhpost.com

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