Youth of the week: Heng Sokchannaroath

Youth of the week: Heng Sokchannaroath

LASTweek we wrote about a young high school singer and this week we shed light on a youth who could help make him famous with her part-time gig as a radio presenter.

When she isn’t studying at the Department of Media and Communications at the Royal University of Phnom Penh (along with many of Lift’s contributing writers), 19-year-old Heng Sokchannaroath is a presenter for radio targeted at Cambodian youth and although she is still a student, her career is well under way.

“My parents were really proud that I could find my own money when I was only 15,” she said about he first foray into radio while in 9th grade. Heng Sokchannaroath has been polishing her communication skills over the airwaves over the past four years, but even before going on radio, the enterprising young woman was already building her resume.

When she was only 13 years old she  started volunteering as a peer-educator for the Reproductive Health Association of Cambodia (RHAC). “I told my parents that I wanted to work as a volunteer,” she said. “I was surprised that they allowed me to.”

Her involvement in RHAC allowed her to tour almost every corner of the country while teaching sex education, health and life skills to youth in the remote areas she visited.

“I was delighted to teach people my age who really respected me and asked me lots of questions,” she said. Within two years of working with the organisation she was voted youth leader of RHAC Phnom Penh.

Her natural talent as a leader, teacher and public speaker got her an invitation from BBC World Service to host a radio show about reproductive health.  “I got a lot of social knowledge from my volunteer work as a peer-educator on reproductive health,” she said, although she had to step away from the role to make way for a fresh batch of engaged high schoolers.

Taking her talent to radio wasn’t as smooth as you would think listening to her confident delivery these days. “At first, being a radio presenter seemed more complicated than I expected, but I never gave up and just kept telling myself that I could do it.”

With a disclaimer that her path might not be ideal for everyone, she passed on some advice to other youth. She says it is important to be confident and independent, but not to be too proud of yourself for it you fail to continue being curious and looking for ways to improve yourself. Although her role on the radio has served her well, Heng Sokchannaroath says she wants to continue her other line of work when she graduates by working at an NGO to help advance the development of her Kingdom.

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