The Apology Letter | College Essay

It was the high of my life, the peak of my youth, the pinnacle of my high school years. Right after the very long and stressful SAT bootcamp I had to go through, I found myself living, studying and working with eight of my friends, 300 kilometers away from school. We were embarking on an ambitious journey, shooting for one far, bright star that most people would call us, teenagers, crazy for even trying. We wanted to write, produce, film and edit a full-length, feature fantasy film. At this point, my life just did a 180-degree flip, going from hammering hard on my math and English to being in my own creative headspace, dreaming about a love story. This was all that my filmmaking inner child wanted to do, and quite frankly, that’s all that I did.

 

I got lost in my dream. I was like the Forrest Gump that runs and runs until the day he feels like coming back home, but before I could come back home, I tripped over, face planted onto the ground. I let all of my emotions, my adrenaline, my excitement, my manifestation for this movie take control of everything in my life. When agreed upon this internship, I was required to keep up with my school responsibilities while I was making this movie, more specifically I had to do five hours of each math and English literacy every week, and anything else would result in getting dropped from this internship. To be completely honest, I knew that this would be a tough task for myself but I couldn’t resist turning down an opportunity that would forever change my life before even giving it a try, because that’s just who I am; I take risks that I know the consequences and difficulty of. But did I?

 

The first seven weeks went by and I was doing the bare minimum hours of math and turned in none of my English assignments. “As I finalize all grades for this round, I noticed that these assignments are still missing and were due weeks ago. Please complete by the end of the week if you want to receive any credit,” wrote my English teacher, Cara Shelton. I ignored her. Every time I saw these messages my stomach cramped up and my body started sweating. But then I was swung into the dream that I was living. The dream had become my reality and nobody could stop me.

 

I had my first warning. “Hello. I have not received any communication from you about your missing assignments nor have you completed any of the work. I do not have any option but to give you the zeros for the missing assignments, which was something I really, really did not want to do,” Cara followed up three weeks later. I’ve failed my classes, but more importantly, I failed myself and my facilitators’ trust.

 

That was the alarm that went off; the slap in the face that woke me up from my deep daydream. I decided to write an apology letter; one that was raw, transparent, and genuine (and, unintentionally, with every apology letters, sappy). “I’m so ashamed to admit my mistake of how much I messed up, last term,” I wrote. “When it comes to academic studies, I always try to keep up with the assignments… [but] somewhere along the way I lost motivation to do the work. It sounds stupid and it is and I was and I regret what I did.” I continued, “I hope you still trust me and allow me to have my second chance.” It was one of the hardest and most humiliating pieces of literature I’ve written in my entire life, but despite all the discomfort I went through when my fingers hit the letters on the keyboard, forming emotions in the form of an email, the self-reflection I had was the gem of that letter.

 

The most haunting part of this episode of my beautiful, dark, twisted show of a dream-turned-nightmare was living with the guilt afterward. I felt like a failure. I felt like the filmmaking life I’ve been dreaming about wasn’t for me. I lost hope in everything I was doing because I thought I failed so miserably that I can’t achieve anything in my life. The inner filmmaking child in me started to die out because I didn’t forgive myself and instead, started beating myself up.

 

I struggled with self-forgiveness. I thought I should’ve just quit. “Thank you for this email. Truly. It takes courage to admit when you are wrong and to acknowledge difficult life lessons. Of course, I will give you a second chance,” Cara replied. Knowing the person I hurt and disappointed had forgiven me, made me forgive myself. With months left, a movie to make, a huge experience to learn from, I told myself that I won’t let this mistake ruin this significant chapter of my life. I asked myself why am I doing the internship? What’s the main purpose of making this movie? What’s worth all the struggles and pain? The one answer I always come back to is my love and passion for the art of filmmaking.

 

People think of dreams as this utopia, filled with rainbows and unicorns, which in some cases are true, but most likely, not. It’s just what people hope to happen, and nothing else, and personally, I fell into the same trap as most people. I went into this underestimating the price tag of what I swiped my card to buy. That price tag that would haunt me afterward with the bills of what I bought. To this day, I still ask myself, was it all worth it? Without all the pain, and trouble I put myself through, I don’t think I would’ve learned so much from the internship. Not just about filmmaking and the different skills that will benefit me in my careers, but most importantly, about balance, trust, perseverance, self-forgiveness and the cost of living a dream.

Behind the Music: A Look at Female Musicians

In literacy, we were studying about different issues with gender inequality. We got to do research, interviews, and dive deeper into specific topics that we are passionate about; I chose music. In my writing (link here), I got inspirations from a New York Times article, which led me to investigate about why male artists are being listened to more than female artists. I also went three days, listening to only female artists, and I documented what happened, and the effects it had on me, in my writing. Again, click on this hyperlink here if you are interested in reading my article.
 
 

Women in STEM | Sylvia Earle

In physics, from the 17th to the 25th of January, we spent time diving deeper into women in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM). I was researching about a marine biologist named, Sylvia Earle, and this is a short profile I wrote about her.

Sylvia Earle is a marine biologist, adventurer, and author. She was born on August 13th, 1935 in a small called Gibbstown in New Jersey, United States. At the age of 20, Sylvia graduated from Florida State University, majored in botany and mastered it the following year. She, later on, got a Ph.D. degree in phycology in 1966. Three years later, Dr. Earle published the Phaeophyta of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, where she had to study over 20,000 samples of algae. Sylvia is most well known for her report about marine algae, her books and documentaries about ocean pollution and overfishing, and her recording breaking dive that took place in Oahu, Hawaii in 1979.

Using an atmosphere diving suit (ADS) called JIM, Sylvia set the record of the deepest untethered dive at the depth of 381 meters (1250 feet) with a whopping dive duration of 2 hours. The JIM suit was a suit built to maintain the internal pressure no matter what the external pressure is. Sylvia described what she saw as “a forest of corals that looked like giant bed springs,” and she was fascinated by all the bioluminescence down at the seabed. Besides that, Sylvia was a “pioneer” of self-contained underwater breathing apparatus gear (SCUBA) by being one of the first people to dive using SCUBA gear and she’s diving now. At the age of 82, Dr. Earle is still diving all over the world and since the record-breaking dive, she had been going back to visit that site several times. Throughout her life, she’d clocked in about 7000 hours of total dive time and still rising. That is equivalent to about 292 days of diving.

Her passion for deep dives also led her to develop deep-water submarines. Back in 1970, Sylvia led a crew of women to live in her submarine and conduct research for two weeks underwater at the depth of 15 meters (50 feet). Sylvia spent more than 1,000 hours (42 days) of research time underwater and again, she’s still out there, today, doing it.

With all the experiences she had doing research and diving, Sylvia realized that there are problems that the ocean is facing, and she took actions toward that. Sylvia founded Mission Blue, which is an organization and also a movement to get people to explore and protect the ocean. She was also involved in several documentaries like Sea of Life, México Pelágico, A Seal’s Life and Mission Blue. She gave a Ted Talk back in 2009 to get people to see the beauty of the ocean and help protect it.

Because of the great work she’d been doing for our ocean, Sylvia had been recognized for it and gotten several awards. Back in the year 2000, Sylvia was honored the National Women’s Hall of Fame. In 2009, after her speech called “My wish: Protect the ocean”, she was one of the three TED Award winners.

SCUBA diving is a sport, and most sports are dominated by men. Sylvia Earle was one of the few pioneers of sports, and that broke the gender barrier of “sports aren’t for women.” Besides that, Sylvia was, and still is involving in STEM, which is a field where it is dominated by men. Her braveness, passion, and work should be recognized all around the globe.

Look Through My Lens | Coming of Age

In literacy this year, we started things off by doing a chapter about coming of age. I wrote my coming of age story about my glasses and how I evolve from loving them to hating them, then later on in my life, I just had to accept it. This was a touchy topic to write about, personally, because it was a struggle I had to go through and I’ve always kept it a secret. I think now is a good time to release the story out there for the world to see, and not just keep it to myself, so if you want to read the entire paper, you can do so by clicking this link here

The circulatory system

We started the year in Biology class with learning about the circulatory system. We started by watching a video by Bozeman Science and learning new vocabularies. Your heart has four chambers. There is no start to the circulatory system because it is circular, meaning it repeats the procedures over and over again until you eventually die. How the circulatory works are the deoxygenated blood that comes from your body through the veins enter the Right Atrium(RA) of your heart. Then it goes through a valve and enters the Right Ventricle(RV). The RV pumps the deoxygenated blood to the lungs to get rid out of carbon dioxide and get oxygen. The oxygenated blood comes back to the Left Atrium(LA) and it filters through a valve to the Left Ventricle(LV). The LV pumps the oxygenated blood to your whole body.

Algebra (Linear and Quadratic equation)

We started the year with Algebra in math class. We started learning about Algebra 2 years ago. This year we are taking it to the next level. This year, we started doing Linear and Quadratic equation. We learn 3 ways to solve the problem. The first one is factorization. The problem would be in a form like this, y= mx+b or ax^2+bx+c. We would try to take pieces  out until the question is down to a form like this (a+b)(x+y) or (a+b)(x-y) or (a-b)(x-y). Whatever comes out(e.g. (x+2)(2x+5)) it always be equal to zero (e.g. (x+2) = 0) then we would find the value of x and plug in the value into the equation and try to find the value of y. Another way to solve the problem is the quadratic equation. The quadratic equation is -b +or- the square root of (b^2 -4ac) over 2. We know which one is a, b and c from the quadratic form(ax^2+bx+c). For example, 5x^2-4x+11. 5 is the value of a, 4 is the value of b and 11 is the value of c. The third way is to graph it on the graphing calculator or people call it TI-84. It was a great and very hard chapter to learn but it was fun.

Khan Academy is one the resources I used to practice.
Khan Academy is one the resources I used to practice.

The play Pygmalion

In English literacy class this year, we are focusing on writing. The first unit of the year is about a play called Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. We were learning about identity. You might ask “why are we focusing on identity?” The goal of this unit is to write an argument essay about Eliza’s identity which is the main character. The question for the essay was “Did Eliza’s internal identity changed?” We read the whole play and we do something called “Text Dependent Questions.” Text Dependent Questions(TDQ) are questions that our learning facilitator, Claire, made for us to answer. While answering those questions, we are also practicing writing using advanced words, meaningful and short sentences and answering the questions clearly. Alongside with the TDQs, we also do other things like making our own vocabulary list, Characteristic tracker(this really helps us with our essay because we have all the info in one place) and planning our essay. We also got putted into groups and we were ask to make a fun, little project about the story. I was in a group of four and we were asked to compare one quote from Act IV and one quote from the end of the play which shows changes in Eliza’s identity. We decided to make a Scratch project and animate to show the difference. We also look at a model essay about “Did Mr. Doolittle(Eliza’s dad) internal identity changed?” This morning, we submitted our essays to Claire. In conclusion, it was an amazing play and it was fun to read, learn and write an essay about.

Link to my scratch project that I made with my friends: https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/122896912/#player

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This is us in the “Green room” learning about “Quote sandwich.”

ISPPMUN 2016

This year, I decide to do it again. I decided to take on a challenge of joining ISPPMUN once again. This time, I had much more time to prepare. Last year, I only had 1 week to prepare but this year I had about 3 months to prepare for this three-days conference. It started on Friday 28th, 2016 at around 5:00 PM in the Black Box theater at the International School of Phnom Penh (ISPP). There are about 300 participants in this year ISPPMUN. There’s 13 schools in total, 6 from Vietnam, 1 from Singapore, 1 from Siem Reap and 5 from Phnom Penh(including Liger). There are 14 students from Liger that joined this conference, 2 in General Assembly(GA) and 12 in Junior General Assembly(JGA). I am the delegate of Belgium this year. The three topics we had was:

The question of large dams in South-East Asia

The question of equality in access to education

The question of protecting animal rights across borders.

It was a great experience just like last year. Now, I said to myself “I’m doing this thing for the rest of my LIFE. Not my school years but my LIFE.” I have the best chair and deputy chair ever. They were so nice. This year, I finally know what I’m doing in MUN. We had great debates. I made a lot more speeches and Point of Information(POI) than last year. Both of my resolutions passes. This year, I am the Main-Submitted which mean, I need to make speeches, answer all of the questions I was asked and a lot more nerve racking things. There’s FIVE resolutions and FOUR of it passes which was very impressive for my committee. My resolution was about the question of equality in access to education. It got 14 out of 14 votes for it to pass so I felt pretty good about it. The last thing I want to talk about is the Quiz Night! It was a great experience meeting older people, networking, answering questions that we didn’t really know, work with other people and it was a fun thing to do after TEN hours of debating. Overall, it was worth all my hard works and it was just getting better than the previous year. I really want to do it again and I’m signing up for next year ISPPMUN and other MUNs.

Film Making Independent Discovery

This year, I decided to continue my passion, film making but it’s not just me who is doing it. My friends, Neang and Marady are doing it, too! So we collaborate and write some movies and shoot it. We were trying to participate in a film festival and we didn’t have time to make all so we only made one. In this independent discovery, we were writing movies, planning the shooting and talk to the actors and edit the film.

Check out my video!

https://youtu.be/mSwS02l-mts

Disclaimer: The film is in Khmer(Cambodian language) because it needs to be in Khmer for the film festival.

Entrepreneurship(Chili sauce business)

Everyone in Liger was involved in this project called “Entrepreneurship.” He was trying to come up with a chili sauce that people like and try to run that business. I was in a team called Financial and Pitching team. We list all the expenses to start up the business and to run. We did a lot of planning and we try to find out is it a good business to start and to run. We found out that it is NOT a good business to run which is very unfortunate. This September 2016, my group will present the plan to our founder, Trevor and Agnieszka  and the whole board.