Although everybody around Mom Charya, the Silver Medal recipient at the IJSO, are very proud of her achievement, the young woman herself expressed doubts about her own future. Saying that she wants to be a researcher in Cambodia, she doubts she could fulfill her dream because she said Cambodia does not encourage nor develop the scientific field. Wise beyond her age, the young woman received only a small token prize of 870,000 riels (US$200) from Kol Pheng, the minister of education, youth and sports, for her international accomplishment. In spite of her hardship as a daughter of a farmer, Charya truly displayed her great talent in Science. Her Silver Medal at the IJSO brings pride and honor to all Cambodian people. (Photo RFA)

05 May 2006
By Kim Poeuv Sotan
Radio Free Asia
Translation from Khmer by KI-Media

Mom Charya, the winner of the international Science silver medal Olympiad, could not believe she can make it to the top following the competition held in Indonesia featuring 196 candidates coming from 36 countries, and organized by the International Junior Science Olympiad (IJSO).

Charya showed the silver medal and the IJSO award certificate she received among other silver medal recipients from South Korea, Thailand, India, Indonesia, Germany, Serbia, China, Romania, Russia, the Philippines, Croatia, Brazil, Ethiopia, and Vietnam.

She told us with a smile on her face that she could not believe it because she is the daughter of a farmer, she studied at a school in the countryside which lacks experimental and practice classes, as well as research materials etc… Nevertheless, she did receive the silver medal during the competition.

Charya said: “When they called out my name, I almost could not believe it. During that time, I was so happy because before the competition, I was scared and I had not much hope because I studied in the countryside. Therefore, I cannot judge my own ability. In countryside schools, there is a lack of devices and equipments.”

Charya said that the exam topics during the competition include theory, problem solving, and actual experiment which she never knew before. Furthermore during the competition, she broke the experiment equipment which took away a lot of her time: “They gave us a small plant and a glass tube, and told us to measure the speed of the evaporation of water. I was scared because I never used these items in experiments, I did not know whether I can conduct the experiment or not. During the experiment, I followed the instructions but at one point, I became dizzy, and I broke the glass tube. They had to come and clean it up, by then I already had only one hour left.”

Mom Charya is 15-year-old, she studied at the Siem Reap countryside high school located about 4 kilometers from her home. She later transferred to the Santepheap (Liberty) high school in Takhmao city, Kandal province.

Charya’s parents are real farmers. Her family lives in a wooden house covered by a brick roof in the Prek Ho village. A small dirt road surrounded by rice fields lead to her house. Every day, she has to spend a lot of time travelling to school by bicycle.

Charya said that she has to help with some chores at home, in parallel to her dedication to study before receiving this silver medal in Science: “When I study in Siem Reap high school, I did not take any tutoring class, I only study at the public school. When I come home, I help with chores such as sweeping, washing dishes, feeding the pigs, and I also work in the fields. I study based on what I can, I practice a lot on the homework the teachers gave us. In the classroom, I pay a lot of attention, and I don’t chat in class. When I come home, sometimes I relax by watching television.”

Men Mom, Charya’s father, said that he pushes and encourages his daughter to study: “My daughter in under good supervisions from us, the parents, we are not forcing her to do unnecessary chores. If she is studying, we do not tell her to work, we want to let her study as best as she can. She is good at school because we, the parents, are pushing her to study.”

He added that the silver medal [obtained by his daughter] brought honor to him and the government gave Charya [a prize of] 870,000 riels (US$200) for her encouragement.

The principal of the Sereypheap Takhmao high school said that he is proud of students like Charya: “I am very proud because a student in our high school receives the honor. This is not only an honor for the high school, but for also for the province of Kandal as well.”

Even though everyone displayed their particular pride for the silver medal obtained by Mom Charya at the IJSO, the young woman herself expressed her sadness when asked about what she wants to be in the future.

With a sad face, Charya told us that she wants to be a researcher in Cambodia, however, she does not have much hope because Cambodia does not encourage nor develop the scientific field, and therefore, she has doubts on her ability to fulfill her scientific dream.

Posted by Khemara Jati
Montreal, Quebec
May 8th, 2006

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