“If I do not start, and wait till everyone starts doing something, it will be too late to save the planet,” said Hout Siekhuoy, who was born in Battambang province.
At the age of 21, Siekhuoy spends some of her time after class at the Institute of Foreign languages where she majors in English. During her free time, she takes up voluntary environmental work.
“Environment issues are social problems that may not affect most people immediately, but if we ignore them, they will soon turn into very serious issues.”
After an exchange program of environmental studies at the US Institute in 2012, Siekhuoy and other alumni have proposed a lot of activities related to the environment such as workshops, training high school students in six provinces, picking up rubbish in villages and organizing No Plastic Bags Day campaigns at super markets across Phnom Penh.
“I want to see most of the Cambodian youth gain greater understanding about environment issues and start taking care of it before it is too late,” she says.
One year after studying in the US, Siekhuoy was invited to join the Asia Pacific Youth Assembly in Jakarta, Indonesia. The meeting was about environment issues and attended by international organizations and youths from Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nepal, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
In the conference, all the participants were asked to present and share their ideas about the environment in their home country. Constructive discussions were steered towards finding solutions for common problems.
For instance, Siekhuoywould like to do something to change the mentality of some old people in Cambodia who still consider environment-friendly actions, such as picking up rubbish, a waste of time.
“If it was possible, I would organize a No Plastic Bags Day campaign every year to raise awareness of the impact of using plastic on the environment,” she says.
As well as joining the conference, Siekhuoy also attended other programs in other countries including Thailand and Vietnam. She is now getting ready to fly to Norway where she will join the International Student Festival in Trondheim.
“I would like to be a public affair officer in an embassy because I want to contribute more to my community and help other Cambodian students to get scholarships,” she said.