Sokhern and others play a game about prejudice
When Sokhern* was only six years old, Cambodia collapsed into a state of civil war, commencing years of genocide and extreme hardship for Cambodians. Sokhern survived, but he had lost out on many things, including the opportunity to get a good education as a child.
“[After that time,] I really wanted to learn more," he reflected. When he had his own family, Sokhern tried to give his son a chance to study. "I just didn’t have a chance, so I pushed my son to study hard in order to overcome poverty.” Education, Sokhern claims, is an important part of improving one’s situation in life.
Today, Sokhern is a village security guard and fishery community representative. He acts as a bridge of communication and trust between the village people and the local authorities. When his job was tough in the past, Sokhern used to have trouble controling his anger and respecting people with different opinions. He sometimes let his frustration spill over into his family life, negatively impacting those relationships.
In late 2017, Sokhern was given the opportunity to join Peace Bridges Organization's long-term training program on conflict resolution and transformation. He recently graduated from the “Training for Peace” course and returned to his community to apply and share what he learned with people there.
Sokhern said that Peace Bridges helped him to release his negative habits and absorb new skills and attitudes. "The biggest change I've experienced is my new ability to use nonviolnce to communicate and interact peacefully with people around me," he said.
As a community leader, Sokhern has become a better advocate for the fishery community. He is a more effective communicator and listener, rather than using his position for personal gain. His new skills like active listening, negotiation, and servant leadership have aided in his work. Sokhern no longer lets his anger control him and does not disriminate against people who are different. As a result of his changes, Sokhern has improved his cooperation with the local authorities.
Additionally, Sokhern has strengthened his relationships with his family members. He let go of his habit of using rough language around his wife and children. “Now I know these behaviors are not good for my relationships.”
Sokhern is grateful that he had the opportunity to educate and better himself. He said he will work hard to spread peace to even more people. “Peace begins with me,” said Sokhern, with a smile.
*the name has been changed to protect the identity of this individual