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Samath Soem


Hello! My name is Samath, and I am 26 years-old. I was born into a very poor family in Snoeng, which is where one of the TASSEL schools is currently located. I am the youngest of three siblings, and within my whole family I am the only one with a college degree. None of my relatives have finished grade 9.

For 6 years, while I was in elementary school, I would walk to school. During my secondary education I spent most of my time taking care of cows at the rice fields, so I didn’t have much time to study at home. As a result, I often brought my books to the fields and studied while taking care of the cows. During the rainy season (June - October), I frequently caught fish, snails, frogs, and veregable for food, sometimes even staying overnight so that I could catch more things. Sometimes I would sell the things I found so I had money to buy school supplies. Every year between January to March my mother and I spent all day at the fields to pick up any tammarine leaves and rice that was left over from the harvest to make some money.

When I finished secondary school, my parents sold a cow to get some money so I could enroll in high school in the city. I had to bribe the school’s headmaster to let me in to the school. I remember before I moved to the city my dad said, “No matter what it takes, I will help you get an education.” The motivation I received from those words made me try harder in high school. Before I went to high school I thought life would be much happier because of all the opportunities in the city; however, everything was completely different from what I thought. The time I spent in high school was the hardest time of my life; many of my teachers were selfish and cared only about the students who would pay them for private classes. Since I didn’t have the money to take private classes I was left out. A few times my teachers failed me because I wan’t taking theirs classes, and most teachers didn’t teach what they needed to in class so that students would take their classes. The attitude of the teachers disgusted me, and this was the time that made me want to be a teacher, but to be a different teacher from those.

In 2012, after I graduated from high school, I went to a public university where I met some new people who introduced me to an NGO called CHo where I met Teacher Noeng and Teacher Joji. Since I wanted to be a teacher, I started teaching at CHO to gain experience. Fortunately, while working with CHO I got to know teacher Joji better, which lead to me being involved in TASSEL.

I have worked with TASSEL for 7 years and I can say that TASSEL is completely unique. What TASSEL is working to achieve is incredible, and I am so thankful that I got to know Teacher Joji, who is my number one role model. If it weren’t for him, TASSEL would not exist, and all of the amazing things that have come out of TASSEL would not have happened.

My goal as a TASSEL teacher is to help poor children, because I have been in their situation before. I understand how it feels to not have enough love from teachers, so I want to stop the bad attitude from my generation and show love. TASSEL is like a family to all of our students and villagers. We give them love, care, and help so that they know they are cared for. To me, seeing the poor and the villagers receiving all this help and love is one of the happiest things in my life. I truly believe that TASSEL will change my country into a place where people do not suffer.

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