I remember the days my father had taught me the Khmer Alphabets, the days my mother had put the backpack on my back, and the days of the first year at school that I could spell most of the words in the book because of what my father had taught me.
Then, I look at myself in the mirror. I found the scar on the middle of my forehead. The scar was accidentally happened because of my too much excitement to run to the board for leading the words’ reading in class. The blood dropped on the gritty cement floor. 10 years next, it was still there, until the redecoration of the building.
I remember one of the first days at school that I lost my 500Riels (0.10$) daily pocket-money and unreasonably demanded it from my first teacher; she gave me 300Riels, but I demand for the old amount I have lost. Until now, I haven’t pay back that 500Riels to her back. J Every time I meet her, she always asks for the interest from her money, but I have no idea how to repay back. She always says, “ Don’t pay it back to me! Try to study and pay both the interest back to society, continue from me!” and show me too her little students as motivations. I saw my childhood character in them; curious, playful, naughty, and don’t know what to learn for. Her house is nearby my house. During my entire school life until finished high school, every morning when I met her on the way to school, I had paid respect to her regularly.
I remember the days I had asked teachers about when will the class can go to the library, because there was no librarian, old and little books, and kids were naughty to damage those books. The librarian was come from other school to control the small library on a regular schedule, if she was not there, the library would be closed. So, there were turns for classes to go to the small library for one whole day a month. I remember the excitement for waiting to go to library for reading interesting books. I tried to read books lonely as I could.
I remember the time I tried to persuade and promise to my brothers not to damage their elementary academic books and help their houseworks for reading as exchange. I remember the time during my high school, when I had ridden my bike after school to go to a bigger library in another nearby community, because I could borrow it to read at home more. I remember when I was searching for books and decided to re-organize the whole library because of the difficulties in searching books. I got granted to be able to borrow more books to read at home.
I remember when I was forbidden to watch cartoon on TV by my mother because I was careless in study. And, I remember the times I got granted for the good grade I got; second-hand school clothes, one delicious dinner for family, or some study materials. And I remember the times I got granted from school director as top student at the end of the year.
I look back to the time I had led the whole school for the Khmer national anthem song’s singing and Buddhist Dharma’s praying every morning and evening. I remember the times I had led the teams to clean the school’s environment and the time I had grown and watered the flowers in the school’s garden.
I look back to the time I had started my studying English for free with my first English teacher only two hours for every Sunday. I remember the time my family could not support my continue in studying English, and I needed to drop it. I wanted to continue my English language study, and I even remember the time I had tried to ask my mom for 10,000Riel (2.50$) for starting selling snacks in English class to support my study fee. It continued for two years until I left that business to an old poor grandma who lived near by my language class, because she had no family and could make profit for her life too. I even remember the time I got granted from my English teacher to learn for another hour everyday for free because of what I had done to the grandma. And sometimes I got free snack from the grandma also.
I have never heard any bedtime stories from my parents or anyone, but I have read tales and stories and told back to my parents when they were free. I remember their smiles when I was speaking English with foreigners in front of them; my parents even smiled without knowing what it meant.
I look back to times I was walking through green rice fields every morning and evening between school and my home. Sometimes I caught fishes or crabs in the fields for my family. I remember the time I was doing farming during vacations and the adventures with family. I love harvest time!
I look back to the time I finished my high school completely with one of the best score in the country. The time that my parents feel proud for what I have accomplished, and the time that I started to feel proud of what they tried their best to offer me; education. While my father even could not finished grade 3 properly and my mom could not complete grade 9 degree because of the genocide period, civil war, and poverty, I stepped upper for them. They don’t really understand what I’m doing with the upper education, but they give me all what they believe in me.
When I’m getting tired in education, I look into the mirror and see something hidden inside. I remind, reflect, or look back to my early life, to the things that my parents have done for my way in education and my future. Then, I can charge at least my mind power to stand for education.
I have learnt that for young generations to be able to obtain at least their basic and right education is the great holy gift for them. They can start to attach their sense to the world around them. Education is also a main key to solve many pressing issue in the World. The main roles of passing the education to children are their parents. Parents’ commitment toward their children’s education is really import for all kids to achieve the education, as the same as I’ve seen it in my parents also.
Are they brave enough to sacrifice themselves for the their children’s brighter future?
Do they commit to help their family before other can give help?
Can they have possibility, knowledge, experience, or at least a good perspective to advice or motivate their children to try to study?
Do they have some time to keep following up with their children’s study?
There are more and more questions that all parents need to keep in mind! For everyday living or filling hungry stomach is really important for the moment time to everyone, but as the parents, we (I will be a father too) must be ambitious to think high for our family’s living and children’s brighter and more meaningful future.
To accomplish this, local community, society, and the World also play both direct and indirect roles to strengthen the education rate. Direct roles are to provide the schools and study equipment, provide the scholarship and financial support to students, and so on, which also based on the area, situation, and different case of problems. Indirect roles are to change the parents’ perspective and some cultural perspectives about the division right of obtaining education based on gender, class, property, religion, colour, or age…. and so on that’s according to the context of society, culture, and belief.
Give yourself sometimes about looking back into the mirror or into the early age of your education. Feel, accept and appreciate it! Be proud of yourself about how far you have been walking until here, now! Be proud of your parents, teachers, and people who had paid their contribution in your success also! Give them honourable appreciation and be brave to show them to the world around to make them proud. One more important thing, even what your profession is, it is all happens because of education. So, Take part in demanding, empowering, and providing the education chances for the next generation. Education activist or any other field activist cannot accomplish the success for all without the public support.
I am currently living in Turkey for my BA education. I always close my eye and try to imagine how many Syrian kids and kids in other parts of the world. They need to drop or even can not go and start school because of the war, daily living, culture, place, lack of support, and opportunity conditions. So I’m grateful that I am here sitting down and learn properly. I learn for myself and in representing to the other who could not. I aim to obtain the education as much as possible, and I’m always to be a part to work for the “Education for All” idea!
And because, in the future, I will be able to have many greater things more to Look Back!