Coming from the humblest of backgrounds, Bin Yan, a member of the Kouy minority from Stung Treng province’s Thala Borivath district, has written a book in English to inspire young people who faced similar hardships to his own.
Smiling as he spoke, the 26-year-old said he spent a year writing “Win Fate, Create Miracle” to show foreigners that while he is not a native English-speaker, he can write sufficiently well for foreigners to read about his life.
“I wrote ‘Win Fate, Create Miracle’ because I have been through many obstacles in life,” Mr Yan said, adding that he wants to inspire youth, especially undergraduates and high school students, to keep at their studies, and to share some of his ideas about life with them.
Mr Yan said he had observed that some students lacked clear goals, so he hoped his book would help guide and motivate them not to give up on whatever tasks they set for themselves.
“Additionally, I wrote it because I wanted to improve my English and to show foreigners that Cambodian youth can write in English.”
He wrote the book with help from his friends and teachers, including a foreigner. Its contents are based 60 percent from his life; the rest are gleaned from the experiences of others, mostly successful people and great world leaders.
Mr Yan said he has loved reading from a very young age. He gets inspiration from what he reads and says books help him to write his own material and to set clear and ambitious goals in life.
Talking about his struggle to get a good education and overcome ignorance when he was young and living in his home village, Yan said he was looked down on by his relatives and siblings, who told him he would never be successful at school and called him “stupid.”
Despite these discouraging remarks, Mr Yan knew he was bright because he always got the top score in class. He knew he was not cut out for farming because he lacked the strength to work all day in the hot sun.
He constantly told himself he was destined for bigger things and that when he grew up he would have to build on the preparations he had already made.
The smile disappeared from Mr Yan’s face as he mentioned that his mother died when he was 2, and that later his father left to marry another woman. His life has been filled with challenges ever since.
As a minority villager in the eastern part of the country, Mr Yan didn’t get access to school until he was almost 10.
“To attend school, I had to walk 7 kilometers each way from Grade 3 until Grade 6,” he said, adding that he had to cross streams and canals, especially when it was raining.
“Sometimes I walked barefoot,” Mr Yan said, adding that although he has encountered countless difficulties in his life, he has never given up on his studies.
Mr Yan said his biggest motivation came from his primary school teacher, who was the only person who encouraged him.