A few weeks ago, a video of a young student speaking during a graduation ceremony at the Aii Language Center went viral on Facebook. Many were amazed by how confident Hor Kanitha was in delivering an inspiring speech using the English language. While the ability of a student to speak English doesn’t come much of a shock, Kanitha’s delivery was different. Hers was an obvious product of hard work and diligence, of a kind of confidence rooted in her passion to communicate well. As of this writing, the video of Kanitha has already garnered more than 170,000 views, 3,600 shares and 5,900 likes on Facebook.
But, of the thousands of people who viewed and praised her video, how many know the struggles she has endured to become the fluent English speaker that she was in the viral clip?
“I started my educational journey four years ago because I was always nervous and unconfident to speak English as I did not know much about the language. So when I started studying at Aii, students around me can speak the language fluently. I committed myself to learn fast and be someone who’s confident in communicating with people using English,” the 13-year-old student shared to Youth Today.
“I tried harder and harder. It wasn’t only speaking that I wanted to improve. I also aimed to deepen my knowledge in reading, writing and listening in English. I learned them all along the way.”
Kanitha gives the credit of her fast improvement to her teachers and friends who tirelessly supported and encouraged when she doubted her skills. She emphasised that she strived hard to learn the “universal language” to relay important messages to the society beyond the Kingdom of Cambodia.
“Every single day is different!” exclaimed Kanitha. “It is different because I absorb new knowledge through different teaching techniques and exciting classes. Our teachers always hook us to study and make their teaching style fun and educational.”
Her effort in learning ultimately paid off. Earlier this year, Kanitha was told she was selected to be the representative of Kid Level 12. Thus, her viral video.
“Normally, I am really shy. But at the same time, I think it is a priceless opportunity to unleash my potential. Finally, I did it after rehearsing and building my confidence in front of the camera as I practiced. I learned to see and reflect every mistake I make. So then I found a key to improve myself and be better,” she said, smiling.
Aside from excelling in English, Kanitha is also an outstanding student in her Chinese and Khmer classes. She shared some tips: “It is not a one-day effort nor it does not mean we have to study only when exam schedule is close. It is a daily learning, and every day, you try to improve. One thing that students have to be aware is that it is really vital to listen to teachers and ask questions about things we are uncertain of.”
A picture of a confident and bright girl, Kanitha also shared that she had been broken numerous times. But her eye is on her goal: to be a great English speaker.
“I feel disappointed with myself sometimes as I cannot achieve what I have expected. But it is a good lesson for me to reflect at myself deeper and find way to do it better and stronger. Failure is an opportunity if you take it positively.”
Like any other student who aims to excel in class, Kanitha’s day is filled with stress and pressure. Studying all day long isn’t a piece of cake, especially at her age when playing is a temptation. But as young as she may be, she knows how to balance her time – giving both education and fun the attention they deserve.
“When I feel really stressful and dissatisfied, I always listen to music and do painting. And sometimes, I follow YouTube dancing styles. It helps me get rid of the negative emotions, and it makes me feel free.”
Kanitha didn’t expect her speech to be viral on Facebook, nor did she expect that she would gain praises from the public. But she is more than happy and grateful to have inspired other young students.
“I understand that spending our lifetime on this path, we cannot always be successful. But no matter what you think, time ticks and moves. So students should spend their time wisely and keep improving and learning everyday if they want to achieve something in the future. When you work hard, that goal will come closer and closer each day.”
Now, she’s focusing on how to improve herself more – not just her English speaking ability, but her entirety. She is also working hard for another goal: to become a pharmacist or medicine expert.
“It is my dream and goal since I was young. None of my family members works in the healthcare field. Though I know it’s gonna take me years to study, I will gladly go through it. I really like reading biology books, and I am fond of helping my family members clean their wounds without fear. That’s how I realised I want to know more about medicines and be an expert in it.”