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Eagles of AUPP, Reaksa Pin

1. Could you tell us about yourself?

Hello everyone, my name is Reaksa Pin. I am a Senior, majoring in Global Affairs and minoring in Economics (Non-Business). You might not be familiar with me or see me around campus this Fall semester as I am currently on leave from AUPP to participate in the Global Ugrad exchange program in the U.S. at the University of Southern Indiana (USI).

During my Spring Semester back on our campus, I was the co-chair of the 2022 Student Advisory Committee for the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS SAC). I was also a member of the Admin and Logistic team, supporting the organizing committee for the Model United Nations at AUPP (MUNA) that took place earlier this year. Just before leaving for the States, I was a Volunteer Coordinator intern at a peace-building NGO called the Global Peace Alliance – Cambodia (GPAC). Previously, I was also a former Political Student-Intern at the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh.

My time at AUPP has proven to be very fruitful and transformative. I still remember my first day of freshman year like it was yesterday. Just out of high-school, I was a blank canvas, a clean slate, a ball of hot clay ready to be molded by my professors, friends, and overall college experience into a capable human resource for our society, and to now have come this far in my journey, I’d say I’m optimistic in this process of becoming. Thus, I would like to take this opportunity to express my utmost thanks and gratitude to my family, all my professors, friends, and staff at AUPP who have helped and supported me to become the better version of myself I am today.

2. Could you tell us about the achievement you are most proud of?

I must apologize in advance for not having much of an impressive record to share as an Eagle, but I am very happy and proud of all that I have achieved so far because I gave my all to earn them. For a long time at least, I was most proud of graduating from high school with an A on the national baccalaureate exam since it made it possible for me to come to AUPP on a scholarship. Step by step, as I learn and grow, I accumulated something more, and each one has helped me unlock the next door in my academic journey and structure a potential career path to a field that I’m very interested in – foreign affairs and consular work. At this moment, the accomplishment I am most proud of that has led me across the world to the U.S. is when I decided to apply for an internship at the U.S. embassy back in my sophomore year. It was my first time getting a glimpse of professional work life. Being a political intern allowed me to gain practical experiences in conjunction with my studies. It helped me to grow professionally, and I could apply the experiences I have earned to other places such as my work with CSEAS SAC and my recent internship at GPAC. One after another, they helped me to build a strong and competitive enough background that got me selected as one of the Cambodian Ugrad exchange students for this cycle. So, in retrospect, I am very thankful that I decided to apply for the program back then. 

3. Any advice to people that look up to you?

To have anyone look up to me is a rather strange feeling that I am not used to, because I am looking up to others too, especially to my older sister, and so I still do not consider myself ready or qualified enough to be anyone’s role model. However, for those of you who are kind enough to think so, thank you! Coming from personal experience, my advice would be for you to take that first step, that leap of faith, to participate in something that you feel like you are not ready to do at this point. Believe me, no one is ever ready, you learn by doing; and little by little as you go along, as you become more mature and confident, there will be someone for you to help get started on their path as well, and that is how you become a role model yourself. And if you are a Global Affairs freshman or are interested in improving your confidence and public speaking abilities and in meeting people that can help you grow, events like Model ASEAN (MAMA) and Model UN are always a good place to start your journey. Being a first timer myself when I joined last year’s MAMA, I got to work with a very inspiring and great team and ended up being selected as Best Delegate for my committee. So, I can guarantee you, participating in MAMA is worth it and will change you in so many positive ways. That feeling of seeing yourself improving right in front of your own eyes will help boost your confidence and get you to face harder challenges and hurdles upfront in the future.

4. Could you tell us about your exchange program experience?

This Fall Semester, I came to the University of Southern Indiana (USI) in Evansville, Indiana as an exchange student under the Global UGRAD Exchange program. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of State, and it provides full scholarships for 300 undergraduate students from all over the world to come study in the U.S. for one semester. Students can study courses in their area of expertise; so currently, I am studying Political Science at USI, carrying a 15-credit load. The credit system and the course environment are similar to what we have back at AUPP, so I do not have much trouble adapting academically.

During my time here, I get to participate in so many interesting activities that not only allow me to learn more about American culture but cultures from other countries as well. They say the U.S. is a melting pot of culture, and it certainly is. There is just so much diversity on campus. Besides learning alongside American classmates, I have met nationalities from far and wide across the globe, including international students from China, Egypt, Germany, Ghana, India, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malawi, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Saudi Arabia, the Congo, the Netherlands, Vietnam, and Ukraine. I also met faculty from Romania, Canada, and Macedonia! Meanwhile, I am the first Cambodian student at USI, so for most of them, I am also the first Cambodian they have encountered. It is an honor and a privilege, but I also certainly felt a lot of pressure to make a good impression to represent us well. A memory I will hold very fondly as I go back home is when I got to host the Cambodian Culture Night last month and perform my duties as a cultural ambassador. I shared with my international friends our language, traditions, customs, and music and got them to try some Cambodian food as well. That moment made me remember one of the reasons why I chose to study Global Affairs, which is to build bridges between us and others.

Besides studying and exchanging cultures, I also got to travel. I was able to go to New York and Chicago for sightseeing last month. Since I am studying Global Affairs and Economics, the United Nations and Wall Street have often been mentioned in my textbooks, so naturally, I wanted to see these places once in my life at least. To go to New York to see the Statue of Liberty – the symbol of the U.S. and the American dream, to see the UN headquarters, and Wall Street, it all still feels so surreal to me as I am writing this down.

Overall, I highly recommend my juniors and those interested to apply for the Global UGRAD Exchange program. All I can say is that it is definitely a life-changing experience!

5. What is the happiest moment of your life?

The happiest moment of my life is anytime I can make my parents proud – whether that be performing well in school, in the workplace, or just being a good child and person overall. Being lucky enough to get to go through so many years of elementary and secondary schooling and now college, I can see clearly how providing education for your children is a very big investment to make, so imagine having three girls like my parents. I wish to repay them by taking care of their investment in my education, to turn it into something very fruitful for both our family and society. So, bringing joy to my parents is my biggest source of motivation in anything I do. It is simple, making them happy makes me happy.

6. What are the steps that you took that take you to where you are right now?

I got to where I am right now because I believe in hard work, in being inspired by other people’s experiences, and most importantly in taking chances. Perhaps it was from the cartoons that I watched as a kid, or from my observation of my dad, but since a young age, I have always believed in hard work, self-discipline, and integrity. These values strongly shaped my study and work ethic throughout the years. I am also extremely fortunate to be surrounded by role models and mentor figures whose journey of becoming inspired me to work hard and seek self-improvement. As I have mentioned before, one of my biggest role models is my elder sister, whose path I have been chasing since I was a little girl. Seeing her shine and making our parents proud makes me want to do the same. And because I am the middle child, that means that I can also influence our youngest sister in a good way. Meanwhile, although I felt very unprepared when I chose to participate in MAMA last year, it was one of the best decisions I have made that showed me why taking chances is important. There is a quote that I really like, and it says, “Embarrassment is the cost of entry. If you are not willing to look like a foolish beginner, you will never become a graceful master.” So, every time I feel nervous about starting something new, this is the mantra that I repeat to get me to jump into it. That is all I have to share with you. Remember, the tips are to work hard, be inspired, and most importantly, just do it!

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