My name is Sokhy. I am 23 years old. I was born in Stung Treng, in the village Hang Kosouen, just across the river from the town of Stung Treng. I have six brothers and sisters. I am the eldest of them. My mother was born in my village, in Stung Treng—my father in a neighboring village in the province. They are both rice farmers. My younger sister, the second-oldest, has a family. She’s 21, and was married when she was 19. She lives at my mother and father’s house. Her husband is from the same village as my father, O Trei.

I have finished high school; I took the exams for 12th grade. We didn’t have the means for me to learn more. I came to study at Le Tonlé instead, in 2014. In high school, since my village was across the river, I lived with my aunt in Stung Treng town, to avoid making the crossing every day. I liked living with her, but our school was far, and I had to ride there and back on a bicycle. Sometimes, too, we had money for me to learn; other times not. So most of the time, I felt like I couldn’t follow my lessons. I had to keep working to catch up with the class. My favorite subject was physics. I was better at it than all the other subjects. When I didn’t have money to go to school, I would study it at home, but it wasn’t the same. I liked living in Stung Treng anyway, though. I had more friends than I did in my village.

I was 21 when I finished high school. When I finished, when I passed my exam, I wanted to go study more, in the university, but I was out of money. I spent one year free—but during this year, I became very sick. I could not do anything, and I could not find a job. I had lingering malaria—a high, persistent fever and a headache. Eventually I went to the hospital and was helped. I had a headache and stomachache and fever for a long time, though.
The hospital was expensive. I had to pay for medicine, for the serum they gave me, for the IV itself. My parents had some saved, thankfully. They are poor, but they were able to help. I still felt sad. I was with my mother and father, but our hearts were all difficult.

I heard about Le Tonlé on the radio. I registered, then took the exam, then interviewed. I felt very happy to come. I’ve made, now, so many new friends, and I’ve seen a lot of things that I haven’t seen before. It is a new thing, for me, to live with my friends in a team, to work together and cook together—we cook quite well—and speak out our hearts. When I’m finished, here, I don’t know what I’ll do. It’s hard to find a job in this town, though my teachers will help me. It might be far from Stung Treng, where I work. I’m afraid to do work far from home, and afraid to do jobs about which I know very little. I will do any work I can find.

When I do have a job, I’d like to go to university to learn more. I don’t care what province, any at all. I’d like to learn English and computer skills—I’d like to get better with computers. If I had a good job, I think I could support myself to do this.

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