Hello! My name is Puthyda. I come from Cambodia. My life began in a small town called Sereysophorn, Banteay Meanchey Province near the Cambodia-Thailand border. I had always dreamt of studying abroad when I was young but financially, my family couldn’t even afford for me to study in the capital city. So I told myself, don’t even dream of going overseas to study.
My dad got a one year scholarship to France in 2009. This is when my dream of studying abroad brightened up again. From then I knew that there is something called a “scholarship” that could help me to pursue my dream even though my family cannot pay for me.
In 2010, I applied for a UWCSEA 5 year scholarship program. I didn’t tell anyone in my family about this scholarship because I don’t want to hear them saying, “I think you are too young…..”, “but you are a girl…..” or “Are you sure they’re going to choose you?” I decided to tell my mom only when I got called up for the first round exam. After three rounds of exams, interviews, team work with hundreds of candidates from all over Cambodia, I was very fortunate to be granted a 5-years scholarship to UWCSEA in Singapore.
It was the greatest moment in my life and it was very easy for me to accept the decision. However, I understand it was very difficult for my parents to decide. I know that it is hard and risky to let their thirteen years old daughter go to a country they had never been to before and to a school that they have never heard of. I tried to explain and show them a lot about the school and Singapore until they felt more relieved about letting me go.
UWCSEA is the place I call my ‘second home,’ the place that I grew up. Five years in UWCSEA from grade 8 to grade 12 has definitely been life changing. UWCSEA has brought me up from a deep well to a beautiful world. UWCSEA is such a diverse supportive community that has opening eyes, opening minds and opening hearts. I have friends from everywhere around the world, from different backgrounds. I have learnt to respect the other cultures and perspective. We all come together to share our experience. I can say they give me friendships that will last for a lifetime.
Moreover, UWCSEA gave me such a great learning environment with a high standard education system and great teachers that are always there to help me with my difficulties. Although education in UWCSEA is not only about academics, it is to “educate individuals to embrace challenge and take responsibility for shaping a better world.”
In addition to academics, I was involved in many extra-curricular activities, community service and Global Concerns. I was part of Tabitha Global Concern, where I helped to fundraise and went to build houses for people in the poorest rural region in Cambodia. I was part of the Initiative for Peace and was a facilitator, organized a “Peace Day” conference open to not only UWCSEA students but to other students from many other international schools and local schools in Singapore. I was a chair of the environmental initiative in my boarding community focused on recycling and tree planting. I was also part of the Rainforest Restoration Project and just received a distinction in a Rainforest Restoration Practice Certificate. I also participated in NYAA program, which allowed me to take adventurous trips to different countries.
I love traveling and UWCSEA gave me chances to travel the world. I tried to make the most of the opportunities given to me. Within 5 years of UWCSEA, I have travelled to almost 10 countries, some school trips and some holidays trips I planned with friends.
All these experiences in UWCSEA have allowed me to find my real passion in doing volunteer work, community service, environmental issues, and traveling (adventure trips and camping). Another remarkable thing that I have learnt in UWCSEA is appreciation. Having the privilege to be part of this amazing community, I appreciate everything I was given and, most importantly, I appreciate my parents’ decision allowing me to take part in this incredible journey.
I chose Lewis & Clark because I can feel the spirit of support, collaboration, and friendliness in this small community through talking to my friends there and looking at the website. I believe there would be a good connection between students, staff and faculty. The diversity, location and the environment are the combined factors that made Lewis & Clark stand out and especially the award winning green buildings.
Since science has been one of the subjects I’m most passionate about in high school, right now I am thinking of doing a major in Biochemistry, but I am also interested in doing pre-medicine. I always want to be a doctor or a researcher in the medical field. I believe doing biochemistry in Lewis & Clark would lead me on the path to my dream careers.
I am now very excited and ready to learn, explore and work together with the Lewis & Clark community. I am going to make the best of the opportunities in the college. I will try to do my best in academics, activities or volunteer work, getting to know more people, and of course will not forget to explore Portland.