With courage and persistence, Suos Imsouchivy continues to achieve his goals – from being a young boy wearing faded uniforms to being the deputy chief of Asean Office of the Department of Asia and Pacific under the Directorate General for International Trade, Ministry of Commerce. This role model shares his story and insights with Youth Today’s Srey Kumneth.
YT: How to be a good young leader?
Mr Chivy: Young people in our society today should not be afraid to embrace leadership roles regardless of their age. To be a young leader, you obviously need to have some leadership skills to begin with. From my experiences engaging with youths, many of us already possess skills at a young age but we were unable to identify or utilise them as a potential due to limited resources and unsuitable environment.
For young people who think they do not have skills, do not worry; leadership can be learned. You can improve your leadership capability by simply observing those who you perceive as your role models or good leaders. Sometimes, taking the risk by “putting your hand up” is a good start.
But being a good leader requires more. I believe that passion and compassion play important roles in this. Young people are very hard to please. To lead such group, you have to be more mature, patient and persistent at the same time be able to listen to them. When engaging with older people meanwhile, it is important to remain respectful. Leadership takes time to master, but you are never too young to lead.
YT: How can young people, who feel hopeless because of life circumstances, pursue their dreams?
Mr Chivy: I am fortunate enough to receive many awards, scholarship, and fellowship that allow me to pursue my education abroad and land on a respectable job. I have enjoyed travelling to over 55 countries in the past eight years. All of these sound like a wild dream to many Cambodian youths including myself.
I’m usually identified as “dreamer” because of these achievements but I disagree with that. Looking back, I have achieved all of these not because I dared to dream this big but because I woke up and chased them nonstop regardless of my resources or circumstances.
It’s ironic because I believe that to make your dream come true is to simply not dream at all. Our youths should not aim to be a great dreamer but a great doer or go-getter; to be someone who does not want to go to bed at night but very excited to get up each day to pursue those goals. If you are unhappy with your plans or too tired to wake up and chase them, you might be doing something wrong. You should take the time to evaluate your goals carefully, recalibrate them then make some progress. Even a small progress can make a positive difference throughout your day. This is a snowball effect that rolls toward your target goals in the long run.
I believe that life is a set of problems and you have to work hard to solve them. Most importantly, you have to learn to enjoy solving problems. You have to understand that you do not always succeed; not yet at least. Some problems take longer time to solve but that’s okay because we will find the solutions sooner or later if we persist.
You should not feel hopeless and you should try to seek positive experiences from your failures. As long as you still have a purpose in life, it does not matter if it’s your family, wealth or knowledge, you will be able to work harder and smarter every day to get there. I do agree that life is sometimes difficult, and it’s okay to be frustrated but not for too long. Remember that each second that you waste, there is always someone out there working relentlessly toward the same goals and is willing to pay any price to reach them. You should not allow your failures to define you or get in your way of pursuing your goals.
YT: What hardships have you encountered in the past?
Mr Chivy: I was born and raised in the capital city but growing up, my family and I lived paycheck-to-paycheck thus we did not have much money but I was still able to go to school. That time, I had a cup of noodles for breakfast every day before leaving home. I had a school bag and two pairs of uniforms, and I wear them almost my entire primary school. Many friends were mocking me because my blue pants had faded and turned to gray. My 4th-grade teacher called me out to stand in front of class because I wrote all my homework in one notebook because my family could only afford one.
I still remember that I once wanted a set of textbooks that were not available in my school library. The problem was that it cost as much as my mom’s whole month salary. But she still managed to buy it for me because we both know that in order to get ourselves out of that poverty, we had to invest. We believe that education and knowledge were our priceless investment and we were right.
Aside from financial hardship, I did not have any mentor for my international scholarship. When I first applied for the United World College scholarship in 2009, I reached the final stage and got so nervous before my interview. I spent a whole day reading various book to cope with my anxiety and it did not help. My eyes were swollen after reading for hours and I was hospitalised the day before my interview. I still went to interview and surprisingly, I ranked first among the five candidates.
Those are just a small fraction of what I had to endure throughout my academic journey to get where I am today. With my family’s encouragement and my perseverance, I learned to believe in myself, as along with a touch of luck, we made the impossible possible.
YT: As a role model, what’s your message to the Cambodian youth?
Mr Chivy: I believe that there is no specific time to pursue your goal including applying for scholarships abroad. You should always go for it as there’s really no complete readiness or perfection. But you have to prepare yourself and be equipped with the necessary knowledge and courage. If you fail, pick yourself up and learn from it. Then, try again.
You should reach out to other people who applied for similar scholarships and ask them for some guidance or mentorship, so you do not repeat the mistakes. If you succeed in pursuing your goals, do not forget to return to your home country and contribute to its progress. Our country needs you for further growth and development and your positive contribution whether big or small does make an impact.