During Graduation Day on May 27th, Vichy (Class of 2018, Cambodia), took the time to sit down with Nikkei Business Online—one of Japan’s most influential media—to discuss his experience at UWC ISAK Japan and his plans for the future. Here’s what we learned.
Why did you come to ISAK?
There are three main reason: the first is because it is a newly-established school. There were a lot of opportunities and risks that I took. When I started, we didn’t even know if we were going to an IB-accredited school. Everyone coming here is a risk-taker. By taking risks, I have an opportunity to establish a culture in this community that I want to live in. The second point is the school’s mission that focuses on cultivating leaders. I knew that coming here, I would have the opportunity to decide on what I want to do with my life, and what I can do to improve the environment around me. The school provides a lot of support through guiding leadership sessions and mindfulness. By coming here, I have improved a lot on my mental health. I used to experience depression and anxiety before coming here. After 3 years of going through all the support provided here, I have grown stronger and can communicate with people more openly. More importantly, I can acknowledge different diverse opinions from people not just based on the color of their skin.
Lastly, the people. My first impression when I came here was that everybody is given the same equal opportunities regardless of their position. For example, our teachers will eat with students at lunch. Outside, everybody completes their responsibilities. However, we treat each other and respect each other equally. I learned to grow. I knew that I could make mistakes and I knew that no one would judge me. Instead, I was supported to improve myself and go forward.
What did you learn by coming to ISAK?
Coming from Cambodia to Japan and studying here for three years, I was able to see how Japan became one of the most powerful economies in Asia. It was through constant innovation. It has inspired me to learn how the Japanese people achieved that through innovation and the future of technology. I see the lack of application in many other countries already, so I want to fulfill that gap to help my country’s economy grow.
What is your future plan?
My future plans have changed a lot from when I first arrived. I have been influenced by a lot of people here, like Lin (Kobayashi) and other social entrepreneurs who have visited ISAK and gave talks. I see myself as somebody who hopes to solve social problems. Next year, I will be going to Macalester College in Minnesota to study computer science. My goal is to establish an IT solutions company in my 3rd year. I chose Minnesota because the immigration population is high, making it diverse much like ISAK. I want to continue to experience that culture of diversity and internationalism that I had here.
Also, last year in winter, I started a small project made up of Cambodian students to help create a software to promote street food in Phnom Penh. I talked to them and managed to convince 8 programmers to join the group. I could see that Cambodian students have a lot of passion and want to contribute but they lack guidance on where and how to start and run a project. I don’t have the technical skills, but through the various projects and teams I have been a part of at ISAK, I was able to initiate this. However, since I was busy with IB exams and they were in their final year of university, we postponed the project. That said, I will not give up on that project and will continue to finish it during my education at Macalester.
Why was this particular project created?
What I have identified in Cambodia is that the people who sell street food just sell it. Compared to the people who do business in Japan, there is a lack of information such as data analysis, lack of focus on what to do in a business, or business analysis. Our application is focused on helping small businesses improve their performance by analyzing the data we collect on our platform.