Asia Blogger Profile: Cambodia’s Seserak


Seserak (Vicheth's nickname) writes the “Cambodia to Japan” blog, a journal of his experience as a Cambodian living and going to school in Japan.

He grew up in Kampong Speu Province, located an hour's drive outside of Phnom Penh. After graduating from a local high school, he came to study business and English at the National Institute of Management and Royal University in Phnom Penh. In 2002, he received a scholarship from the Japanese government to study law at Osaka University. He plans to pursue his Masters Degree in Public Policy and return to Cambodia where he hopes to work as a researcher at a university or with a nonprofit organization (NGO).

He blogs about his homeland, including Cambodian culture. For example, his posts about Palm Trees and sorcery. He is also a poet and often publishes his poems on his blog and elsewhere. He also writes about his life in Japan, including his Japanese language class.

1. What is like to leave Cambodia and study in a different country?

If you visit Cambodia, one thing that you will definitely notice is the striking difference between life in the city and life in the provinces. Phnom Penh is a crowded city with streets, cars and buildings. Phnom Penh people live a modern lifestyle. Outside Phnom Penh are rice fields, scattered villages and very small towns. The majority of these village people live by farming the same way their ancestors did several hundred years ago. As a boy from outside the city, I used to think that Phnom Penh was another world for me.

Not until when I came to Japan did I realize that all of Cambodia is a truly different world. Outside the crowded Japanese city where I attend school, are more crowded cities. That’s very different from Cambodia. In Japan, it's hard to tell the haves from the have-nots, the great from the humble.

I am particularly impressed by the modern structures in Japan. The huge and tall buildings, the beautiful bridges and apartments, and the modern transport system. I marvel at the advanced technology, ranging from mobile phones, TVs, cameras, computers and other electronic equipment. Also, there is far more variety of reading materials like books and magazines. I’ve come to Japan to more clearly understand why countries in the world are classified as developed or developing countries, industrialized or agricultural countries.

I find the cost of living in Japan surprisingly high compared to my country. But I am equally impressed by the high income of the Japanese people.

I've also experienced the difference in language, culture, political system, and society. There is a striking difference in the way of thinking and the way of life in Japan compared to Cambodia.

2. What do you miss most about Cambodia?

That must be food. Well, I'm getting used to Japanese food but Cambodian food is always on my mind. I always think of it every time I eat Japanese food.

3. Why did you start blogging and the benefits?

I had long wanted to create a site to post my thoughts and my writings, but I didn't have computer programming skills. So last year when I stumbled across Tharum's blog, I was really impressed. I learned about the free software for creating a blog and then I started a blog!

I can share my thoughts with people from all over the world. I like to read people's comments. Blogging is a good way to broaden my knowledge of topics. If I want to write a blog post, I carefully do the research and find reference to the topic. Another benefit is that blogging encourages me to write more. Finally, I am able to meet many people from all around the world.

4. What is your greatest hope about your country, Cambodia, for the future?

Like many other Cambodians, my dream is to see a peaceful, truly democratic and prosperous Cambodia in the future. Historically, we reached our peak in the 13th century. But a century later, as historian David Chandler once put it, “Cambodia ceased to grow.” It has been seven hundred years. Such a long pause. Now it's the 21st century- the age of globalization- and many countries in the world are moving ahead. The question is what is Cambodia waiting for? It's time for us to grow, to advance, and to prosper.


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