Best Youth participant
Psychology professor and consultant at the Royal University of Phnom Penh
What are the main things that stand in the way of Cambodian youth being confident and independent?
Sreang Lalune: We need more knowledge so we can judge what is wrong and what is right. We need to be honest so we will never think to hurt anybody and always stand for the truth. We also need to learn from our mistakes. When we make a mistake, we need to know it clearly so that we can be confident to correct it the next time. Finally, we should make good decisions, so that we can be successful and live life without any regrets. Before we make decisions we should think about the consequences and balance our options so that we can make the right choices.
Srun Hour: Youth should know and understand themselves. They should know what their weak and good points are. Many people lose confidence because they are shy, or are afraid someone will criticise them. Parents are also a factor, because it is our tradition that old people want the youth to only listen to them, and not to share ideas or comments. This has created a habit where the youth do not want to say or discuss anything.
Liv Tola: Education plays an important role in building up youth spirit, critical thinking and other general knowledge. But the education system of Cambodia nowadays is a barrier, because it is not good enough to allow youth to gain confidence and independence.
What is the best way to build up your confidence as a professional?
Sreang Lalune: The best way to build up our confidence as professionals is to have a hero in our mind as a role model. We should follow in the footsteps of our heroes and never compare ourselves with others who are better than us. We must trust in our own abilities, and we should just try to do everything we can do in the present time, without feeling afraid of the future.
Liv Tola: The best way to build up your confidence as a professional is to develop your critical thinking skills. This comes from both formal and informal education. Your past experiences also help in everyday life, because the best way to build your capacity is to learn by doing.
Srun Hour: I think that youth should be confident in themselves, starting with the job interview. They should make sure their clothes are tidy, and be well-prepared by researching the job they are applying for. During the interview, make sure what your answers are clear and smile to show you are happy to answer the questions being asked. Once you get the job, be punctual, always complete your tasks and be polite to the superiors around you. That way, you will have confidence to ask them for help when you have problems at work. If you work hard and get the approval of your boss, you will become more confident and will have more power to be successful in the future.
What possibilities are Cambodian youth missing if they do not have the confidence to be independent people?
Sreang Lalune: They are losing opportunities to get into good jobs or schools, because they don’t have the energy to continue pursuing them. They may become lazy and feel stressed. This makes them feel that they cannot do well, so they start to look down on themselves.
Liv Tola: Without confidence and independence, Cambodian youth aren’t able to participate as much in the things happening around them. Their decision making will be lost if they always depend on their family. For instance, an arranged marriage might someday lead to domestic violence. In addition, youth are losing the chance to express their concerns to the government and their community leaders.
Srun Hour: At work, you won’t get good results without confidence. You can’t be successful if you are always afraid that you cannot make it. It is up to the individual to change themselves, and increase their confidence step by step. At school, if you don’t have confidence to raise your hand and ask the teacher, you won’t be able to understand anything. Some are afraid that their friends will tease them or laugh at them, but they should be brave and tell themselves that there are probably others in the class who are wanting to ask the same thing.
What are the most common obstacles that Cambodian youth encounter when they try to be independent?
Sreang Lalune: The most common obstacles that Cambodian youth encounter are a lack of determination and a lack of knowledge. When they try to be independent, they often cannot commit themselves to do a task without trying very hard. Knowledge can also be an obstacle, as youth are easily influenced and quickly form opinions without considering other possibilities.
Liv Tola: The most common obstacle that young people face is that the older generation and the culture around them rarely allow them to believe that they have the ability to do something; there is a lack of encouragement and support from their family, community and government.
Srun Hour: Some youth are too confident, and feel proud of themselves or put others down. This may sometimes lead them to feel lonely, little by little. Some are frustrated and lose confidence easily when they don’t immediately get the results that they want. Other youth don’t get enough encouragement from family and friends, which means they have to depend on themselves to improve their confidence and gain independence.
How do social standing and material possessions influence Cambodian youth? Does having money make you more confident and independent?
Srun Hour: Youth often try to follow modern trends because it makes them feel more confident, but that only works for people who get that feeling. For other people, although they wear simple clothes, they can build confidence in other ways and believe in what they can accomplish. For some youth, material beauty may help them build confidence or influence other people, but that does not happen generally in our society.
Liv Tola: On the positive side, technology is really helpful for youth to connect themselves to the globe. Nowadays, people need technology to improve their work and learn from the outside world. On the other hand, the majority of people are using those materials in a negative way. They do not use it for the benefit of their own life, family and society. Materialism also causes many problems, like wasted money and time. Having money doesn’t make people more confident or independent by itself, but it can help people meet their needs and gain experience.