Hello, my name is Chhorvida Khem. I’m a senior student from Paññāsāstra University of Cambodia and I came here with my team to do the Artificial Reef project for our thesis with technical support from Marine Conservation Cambodia. We believe that our project will help to provide more marine habitat and increase fish population in the region. You might see nothing on the surface, but there are so many beautiful creatures living underneath the sea and those precious marine lives surely need to be protected. I hope that what I’m doing will encourage Cambodian students to do more research and protect Cambodian ocean for future generation.
When talking about environment, the first impression of Cambodian people that I met they asked if I work for waste management? And then they make fun of students whom studying environment are all picking up trash on the street to make the city clean. At first, I feel angry, but then I started to understand these are their perceptions.
When I go to supermarket or market even small shops they use so many plastic bags. *For example: when you buy a gum, they’ll pack it in plastic bag for you.* What’s the point of this? You can keep the gum in your pocket. And they just keep giving away more and more. Some supermarkets force us to use their plastic bag which make me want to flip table sometimes.
I’m a girl from the city, I live with pollution everyday, I breathe in dirty air, I drive in crazy traffic and people rushing every single day because of money. When I see people eating wild meat, destroy the forest, destroy marine life, I feel shame to be human. Most Cambodian young people tend to develop themselves into materialistic and consuming too much. **They buy it and they throw it, and they buy it and throw it again. They don’t know how to keep that stuff for long-term use which is same thing to nature. They destroy one place and then they go find a new place. ** The luxury, the modernity make people go crazy and forget who they are and where they are living on now. They have no idea how much they pollute the environment each year. People will say “oh I love ocean!” “I want to see clean and beautiful beach to relax” but they still throw trash everywhere. Most people say “I love forest”; “Forest is so beautiful”, but they eat wild meat.
Changing someone perception is the hardest thing to do in the world, but we can go slowly and start from now. What I mean of starting from now is to start from me. I learn different things, I learn how to live with nature just because I care and I want to see how beautiful nature in Cambodia. Foreigners come here to protect Cambodian’s nature, why not us? Why not Cambodian people? I’m trying to change people perceptions by start doing something that matter even it’s just a small thing, but I believe that in the end it’s not just benefit for me, but for the whole country and for future generation.
I have strongly believe that when Cambodian young people start to understand and fall in love with nature, they will see a huge different in their life and live in harmony. We should take care of the place where we’re living in, it’s like taking care of our house. The only people that make change is young people. They have to start now like what I’m doing right now.