Last week, when I was browsing through the news feed on my Facebook, I found a gem. It was not something that would give me a million of dollars but a blog that gave me sheer joy after reading it. ^_^
So the blog, created a month ago, that caught my attention features “inspiring Cambodian women” who have disputed the traditional belief that Cambodian women belong to the kitchen. I had a chance to email-interview the author of the blog, Sreyneath Poole, and inquired what was the incentive of bringing that blog into life.
1. Please tell us a bit about your personal and academic life.
I was born and raised in Phnom Penh. Before my mum’s second marriage, I lived near Psa Chas (Old market) and attended Norodom middle school and Chaktomok middle/high school. When my mum remarried in 2000, I was enrolled into International School of Phnom Penh (ISPP) until 2005 when my family and I moved to New York. I finished and received my high school degree in New York and moved to Redlands, California to continue my undergraduate education at the University of Redlands. Within the university, I am enrolled in a program called, The Johnston Center for Integrative Studies. This program allows me to create my own major. The title of my major is (as of right now) is “Living with political conflicts through the lens of international relations and Asian studies.” My major is largely built around after learning about the atrocity that happened in Cambodia more than thirty years ago.
2. What inspires you to start the project? What is the purpose of the “Inspiring Cambodian Women” project?
It came from an essay that I have wrote for a class about Cambodian women and discrimination particularly in the public service. After discussing the issue one conclusion I came to was that Cambodian women needed role models and somebody suggested setting up a web site, so hence my blog began. As I wrote on my blog, the purpose of “Inspiring Cambodian Women” is set up in the hope of inspiring the world, especially Cambodian women, to stand up and make their voice be heard; to be active in their community or in the world.
3. How have you gone about reporting on strong Cambodian women? What criteria do you use to select each to write about?
When I wrote my first post on “Inspiring Cambodian Women” I had a few women in mind. Since I did not expect many readers at the beginning, I thought that I should write about women who are my personal heroines. Some of the women that I truly admire are Mu Sochua, Chhom Nimol and Loung Ung. My dad also helped me by suggesting a few names to me. At one point I ran out of women to research about and showcase on my blog. I thought that my project was finished! As I tried to research on more Cambodian women to write about, I started to send my blog to friends and family to read and help spread the words about the blog. As the blog started to get more readers, I began to get requests from my readers to write about a women who they considered to be their personal hero or inspiring. My readers’ suggestions are pretty much my criteria on how I go about showcasing wonderful Cambodian women.
Writing this blog has been such a great learning experience for me. I did not realize how many courageous and incredible Cambodian women who are out there, against all odds, fighting to do something that they truly believe in hoping to make a positive difference in their community. Every time I research about these women, I become more inspired!
4. What comments or reactions have you seen coming to your blog? How do you feel about them?
I have received many encouraging words from friends and families. Some of my friends here in the U.S said that they learned so much about Cambodia through my blog. This makes me really happy because I want people to know more about Cambodia.
5. What challenges do you think need to be addressed in your “Inspiring Cambodian women” blog?
The first challenge that I see is spreading the words about the blog to as many people as possible, especially to the Cambodian community, both in Cambodia and abroad. I know that this is a challenge because not everyone can access the internet. So therefore, my blog can only reach those who have access to the internet.
The second challenge also relates to the easy access of my blog. I wanted to have the blog both in Khmer and English. Since my Khmer writing is not too good, I am working with my aunt to help me write the blog in Khmer. This has been a slow process. Having all of the posts be in Khmer is a goal that I’m hoping to achieve very near in the future.
The third challenge that is needed to be addressed is trying to showcase more local Cambodian women and their work. This is a very difficult task to do from abroad. When I return to Cambodia in the near future, I’m hoping to meet women who are making a positive difference in their local community and write about their work.
6. Last but not least, what do you want your readers to understand after they read your blog?
My target audience is Cambodian women worldwide who wish to be a positive force in their community. I want to present these women so that they can have a role model to look up to. Being a positive change in the community does not necessarily mean you have to go out and start a big project. It can be anything that you want it to be. Find something that you are truly passionate about whether it’s writing, singing, or playing a sport. Find a way of overcoming the obstacles that you will face. You can make a difference by bringing something that you are truly passionate about to your community.