From her historic milestone as Cambodia’s first conqueror of Mt Fuji, man or woman, Ly Chansocheata is now after her wildest dream – to become a military diplomat
FROM your typical girl to becoming a national figure, Ly Chansocheata first captured the public’s imagination by becoming the first Cambodian woman to reach the highest peak in Japan but her next step is more a daunting one.
Soaring fame as a mountaineer is but just one segment of Socheata’s life, which people see, but her ultimate wish is to reveal the unsung journey lying beyond her childhood dream of becoming a military diplomat in Cambodia National Defense.
“I was portrayed as the first Cambodian girl to climb Mt Fuji, so basically people know me from that conquest. But what I want to show people is not about how I made it there but rather it’s the journey that I’ve been through,” articulated the 22-year-old Ly Socheata.
With fair skin and a neat, elite-class look, nobody would expect this young woman to become the first Cambodia woman chosen to pursue a higher degree in the military academic programme in Japan.
“I was asked by many people regarding my decision of why I choose to be in these programmes [military programme in both Cambodia and Japan]; I gave them various reasons including how I wish to see more women participate in the military sector but mainly, I want to show that what a woman aspires to be doesn’t have anything to do with her looks,” said Socheata.
Even before she became the first Cambodia female to join the National Defense Academy of Japan, Socheata had made headway at the National Defense University of Cambodia for two years.
Armed with a military training background, the Chief Warrant Officer pushed her boundaries in a wide array of combat and survival skills – all just to lay a strong foundation for her wildest dream to come true in the near future.
From dirt crawling through tunnels, wading in deep mud, navigating through the forest and adapting herself to warfare sites, Socheata has disciplined herself rigidly through any unconventional situations required in the trainings.
Only five percent of females in the global arena are chosen to join the National Defense Academy of Japan. Socheata was selected from the many who made it pass the first gate.
In the Defense Academy of Japan, there are wide array of missions to challenge trainees, from swimming in the sea for eight hours to running 16 kilometres with 16kg of gear packed on her body.
Only steely determination is seeing her through.
Socheata has dug in her heels and refused to quit even when faced with endless problems.
Climbing Mt Fuji was among the toughest missions that Socheata has undertaken on her presently, unending journey.
In the mist of all her terror and chaos, never did Socheata think she could make it this far in her military mission.
Whilst climbing Mt Fuji earlier this year amidst freezing fog and rain, she had to muster all her determination and guts to become the first Cambodian woman to reach the peak of Japan’s highest mountain.
“I never thought I could have made it this far or even to the peak of the mountain. I have asthma and a fear of heights. Back in that time, with rain, fog and rocks everywhere, one question I asked myself was ‘Do I want to quit now?’ This made me pause and I committed myself to stand up and carry on,” emphasized Socheata
As a woman in a male-dominated field in the military, Socheata has challenged herself to break the glass ceiling and blaze a trail as Cambodia’s first female to go the extra mile in the military sector.
“The rigorous training that I have been undergoing in Japan is both a trial and driving force that is sharpening my character. I want to see more women become brave enough to harbour her own dream, rather than serve other people’s wishes to become someone else. I want to see women respected for making a choice and pushing back the boundaries of becoming who she wants to be,” said Socheata, back here on vacation.
You haven’t heard the end of Cambodia’s Mt Fuji warrior yet. She should be earning her stripes in no time.