“Personality,” a simple but inspiring word, has changed my life. I remember I first heard that word in one American reality show “America’s Next Top Model” when I was in my freshman year. The show has taught me how valuable a person’s personality is.
Nevertheless, personality is not something you would find in Cambodian context due to the pressure from old people and culture which has forced all the young people being cookie-cutters, which excludes the unique from the society. I, myself, was a victim of bullying due to my so-called “sissy” personality. Therefore, I was determined that one day I have to go to America where I can be myself.
From that time, I was trying to figure out all the possible scholarships available for Cambodian people, and finally I managed to find one which was Global Undergraduate Exchange Program. In the program, three criteria would be evaluated including social engagement, professional experience and leadership. I was not that type of person who would go to volunteer and help random poor people. However, because of the requirement, I had to force myself to volunteer for different NGOs in Cambodia. This had changed my life. Going to the field, teaching young children and doing fund raising for poor people, I can feel that albeit being young, I can be a hero for some people, and seeing how thankful they were, I was so proud that I told myself even if I could not go to America, community service would always be in my agenda.
Finally, I was really selected by the US Embassy to go to America, which is my dream for so long, and, I was able to embrace my personality when I was there. However, my life as a volunteer did not end there. After coming back, I have guts to lead some community service projects myself. What is most rewarding about my work is that once people see how committed I am to the society, they start to accept me for who I am more, and the bullying just faded away itself. I am contented to say that my hard work did pay off.