The Big Giant Blue

     My passion for the ocean never seems to cease; it had only grown stronger the longer I spend near it. Words can’t describe how amazing the ocean is. Words can’t express the gratitude I feel whenever I am near it. According to science.howstuffworks, “We’ve sent 12 people to the moon since 1969 over a handful of missions; only three people have descended to the deepest part of the ocean in the Marianas Trench”. This means that we know more about the moon, which is not even the place where we are living in, than the big blue ocean. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimated that as much as 95 percent of the world’s oceans and 99 percent of the ocean floor are unexplored. That’s crazy! For as long as we know, our whole lives revolve around the ocean. We have been using the ocean as a very important source of food and economic growth, yet we know so little about it. I’m afraid that we are running out of time; by 2050, it has been predicted that there would be more plastics than fish in weight, many marine mammals status are now “Endangered”. 

     Let’s look on the bright side; many conservation efforts are involving, many marine protected areas are established and many countries are working together to tackle this major issue. Among the many different countries, Cambodia is one of them. An organization located on Koh Seh, one of the islands in the Kep Archipelago. MCC, also known as Marine Conservation Cambodia is helping Cambodia’s ocean in so many ways. One of them being is the LMRT, Liger Marine Research Team. In this project, we are monitoring the anti-trawling device that has been deployed around the island. Establishing clear data on whether the block is efficient and a very good solution for trawling. Trawling is one of the major problems that are creating a long-lasting impact on our ocean. Vulnerable coral reefs are ravaged, seagrasses are ripped apart and marine mammals and fish are being overfished. The anti-trawling device, not only provides habitat for lives underwater but acts as an anchor or a knife to cut the net from the trawling boat. The block is very easy to make but is very heavy. 

     Since the first cohort is graduating very soon, they will need someone to continue this project and the vision of it. The first cohort explained how it was a very big commitment and this project is what we will be committed to for the next three years. I decided to join the team because I have been to the island before and was very inspired by the work they are doing there. I have already mentioned the love I have for oceans so this was a great opportunity for me to express it. Unlike on land, we can’t actually see the destruction that is happening to this diverse habitat. So, just being one part of a small change for the ocean is very amazing. 

     Before actually going on the trip, LMRT generation 1 taught us everything we need to know before taking the paper test. Fast forward to the first time I started diving; it was scary. We were carrying these very big tanks on our back. As we enter the water though, the tank became a little lighter. The first time descending underwater was nerve-wracking. It felt so peculiar when we had to breathe compressed air. The air was cold as it comes out of the tank. We did some skills practice while underwater like taking off our masks and taking off our regulator and putting it back into our mouth. For me, every time the regulator comes out of my mouth I would always panic. At one point, I didn’t put the regulator in my mouth properly and took three big gulps of salty water; I was literally drowning. When we did our first open water dive, I was so busy finding my neutral buoyancy that I didn’t even have time to notice my surroundings. Something amazing about the dive was that while we were diving a juvenile golden trevally decided to tag along. 

     Lastly, I would like to thank all the LMRT generation one who taught us what we had to know in order to pass the SSI test. Tim, our very amazing dive instructor and MCC who was very welcoming.

Leading youth toward CHANGE

     Often times we, as a people, don’t appreciate things that are given to us. Take a minute to go outside and look around. What do you see? Well, in my case if I look outside right now I could see the tall clusters of trees packed together. I have already been on an Outdoor Leadership trip where I went to Kirirom and Mondulkiri with my friends and teachers. The experience had been very eye opening. There is just a sense of peace and calmness in the wild. I live in a bustling city where technologies are found almost everywhere. It’s time like being in nature that made me appreciate silence. I was very lucky to be able to experience this phenomenon. As a change agent, I wanted to share my experience to youth in Cambodia too.

Image may contain: 10 people, people smiling, people standing, tree, sky, child, outdoor and nature
In honour of Woman International  Day

In this exploration, we are trying to empower Cambodian youth to be outdoor leaders and environmental stewards by introducing them to natural spaces, raising awareness of conservation threats, and nurturing the passion and skills needed to positively impact their communities. On the other hand, we are also trying to empower women and go against the mindset of “Woman should be staying at home and doing housework”. Opening more opportunities for girls to show the world that they can hike, build fires and set up tents. 

Before embarking on this journey, we will be teaching them four important skills: Nature Appreciation, Wilderness, Medical & Risk Managements and Leadership.

By working on this project, I have learned many things. Mostly, how to be a good leader for other people. It strengthens my leadership skills and critical thinking skills. I have met many problems during the way like an “idea-block”, where as you can probably already tell by the word, no idea comes to my head. 

In conclusion, I believe that this project is very important and that it should keep going. I am also thrilled to be able to share my knowledge with other people and hopefully, make them realize the significant gift we are given.

Passionate students and A play — Setting out to spread awareness

     Earth, the planet we are living in, consist of large bodies of water. 70% of Earth is covered in water. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimated that as much as 95 percent of the world’s oceans and 99 percent of the ocean floor are unexplored. What wonder could lie out there. In the never ending deep, where no light can reach.  The breathtaking view, stretching further out into the horizon. It’s endless food sources for us are now perishing day by day. At the bottom of the ocean, the colorful animals that looks like rock providing habitat to millions of species are demolishing, taken out of the water or losing their color. The seagrass bed ripped apart, releasing sediments, fogging the visibility of the once clear ocean.  According to plastic-pollution.org, 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans. Human creates different impact to the ocean. Some are more serious than the other. The important thing is that most of us, is still clueless, having no clue that we are destroying our home and the future of our generations. Actions such as: illegal fishing, coastal development, waste pollution and many more that have an immense impact to the under-water environment. It made me feel sad to know that we are basically, destroying our own food resources. 

The goal of this exploration, Marine Theater is to expand the understanding about our ocean to people who are living in coastal areas. We want to convey a message to our audience about just how important our ocean is and what we should do to protect it. In order to do that, we ourselves have to learn more about our ocean. So we went on a trip to the MCC, Marine Conservation Cambodia, an organization that help conserve our ocean. When we got there, I was able to go snorkeling around the coral reef that was there. It was my second time going snorkeling but it never failed to wow me. As I dived deeper I could see the different colored fish dancing around it’s home, the long spiked sea animal. As stated from the guardian, coral reefs are so gloriously beautiful and complex – and so vulnerable. I felt so blessed to be able to expose myself to this huge world underwater that I never knew about. I also felt sad and upset to learn that not many people know about this dying ecosystem. In Cambodia, almost all the time you have to respect an adult, whatever they say is always right. In the play we wanted to create a character that is confidence to voice her opinion. A kid who is going to be a hero in her own story without depending on an adult.  A kid who has a voice, an ambition for saving the place she loves. I felt like after creating a character that was a girl and was able to confidently take action on what she believes; Inspires me. We chose to target the issue of plastics in the ocean since it’s active all around Cambodia. We took the play to coastal area in Cambodia, since the community live closest to our ocean. We had costumes and props ready to go. We went to Kep and did three shows there. It was rewarding to see the reaction of the kids when they saw the different variety of sea creatures that is in our ocean. After the play, we did a quick discussion with them about 4 main problems that are happening in our oceans which is plastic and trash, coral bleaching, illegal fishing, and coastal development. I think the problems that our oceans are facing is not easily solved. Everyone has a story behind what they are doing. We can’t just say that it’s the trawler fault. Every problem is interconnected; We have to start with smaller problems and building a new fundamental thinking of our oceans. I truly believe that the play had raise more awareness to people about our ocean. One highlight from the whole journey was when I talked to a grade 11 and 12 students about the problem of plastic in our oceans and to see them discussed the topic with so much confidence. It made me realise that there are more people out there that cares about our oceans. I think we need to change the complex mindset of people about plastic, the mindset of saying that plastic is not a threat to our ocean. People are so used to using them that they don’t realize the consequences it will cause. Say no to plastic, avoid using any single used plastic because if you and I start doing that, then the ocean will be a much better place. 

 

Precious Plastic

     Plastic is essential and convenient almost everyone on this planet use plastic. People love to use it that now it becomes a habit. Eventhough plastic seems like a material that is very useful and convenient to us, it is extremely harmful to the environment. In this exploration, we found an open source website which is called Precious Plastic and we learned about 4 different types of machines which is the shredder, it shreds plastic into small pieces so that we can use it to recycle later. The second machine is the extrusion, it melts plastic and extrude it into lines, products can be made from this machine are 3D line, knife handle. The third machine is the injection, it melts plastic and inject into a mold, products that can be made from this machine are containers, bowls, plate. The forth machine is the compression machine, it acts similar to an oven melting the plastic that were put in it and later on compressed into mold. We were planning to make the shredder machine. We went on a trip to Siem Riep, to Naga Earth. Naga Earth is an organization that turned used oil into clean biodiesel and handwashing soap.

At Naga Earth

 They also make recycle paper from scrap paper and cardboard. Then we went to the Rehash trash where they turned used plastic bag into beautiful plarn products such as jewelry, bottle holder,

 

mat. Unfortunately we can’t make the shredder machine because if we have the shredder machine it needs to be under supervision all the time because it is dangerous and we also don’t have enough time.  There are 7 different types of plastic. But not all plastic, you can recycle. For instance,  the plastic type number 6 polystyrene is considered unable to recycle. It’s not impossible to recycle we need technical products to  recycle the type because it gives out harmful chemical when you burn the plastic.

 

In the process of making recycled paper

 

 

No-Plastic Exploration

The stainless steel straw standing up, the sugarcane styrofoam under the straw and the bags

     For this school year, my exploration is called no plastic Cambodia. The goal of this exploration is trying to reduce as much single-use plastic as possible. In the first few weeks, we learned about what is single-use plastic and also about what products can be used to replace plastic. In the middle of the exploration we did some survey to know just how much plastic is brought into Liger and how much does everyone in the Liger family use plastic each day. Plastic is really bad for the environment because there are different chemical in it that can cause many different sicknesses. People can even die due to breathing the smoke from burning plastic. For now, we are focusing on how to eliminate plastic straws. We also presented our data and a poster about the contagiousness of a sugarcane cup. What we want to show is that most people like taking straws when they are drinking sugarcane but they have no idea who or what touched the straw and how dirty it is. It is interesting how people react to the poster. We also went on different trips like going to Aeon to meet Sandy, she is from the only one planet and her goal is also similar to ours. She imports different products from China such as styrofoam boxes that are made from the waste of sugarcane, cornstarch straw, and different silicon product. I was really impressed by the sugarcane waste styrofoam because it is totally organic and take about only 8-9 months to decompose and if you burn it there will be no harmful chemical. We also launch our campaign this Friday, we will be giving out nylon bags and stainless steel straw so that our students can reduce the use of plastics. “One might not make a difference but together we can make changes” was a quote that is created by the no plastic exploration which means we have to rise together in order to fight and tackle a problem and also the changes can be made anywhere and everywhere. By reading this I hope you are aware of just how much plastic you are using and the effect that it can cause to the world and all living things, not just you.