Welcome to my journey! My name is Phounam, pronounced as ‘Poonam.’ I use she/her/hers pronouns. My mother named me after her favorite Indian actress from the 90s. I am a senior at Smith College’s Ada Comstock Scholars Program, a program designed for non-traditional-age students. I expect to graduate in December 2022 with a Bachelor’s Degree – double major in Political Science and The Study of Women and Gender. My educational journey in America has been very different from most international students. My journey has been filled with joy, sadness, and many struggles. Still, I’m lucky in way that I have been surrounded by friends and supporters who helped me overcome all challenges.
Before being admitted to Smith College’s Ada Comstock Scholars Program with a full scholarship award, I went to (MC) Montgomery College in Silver Spring, Maryland. At MC, I didn’t have financial support from my family in Cambodia, but I had a strong, supportive network of people who helped me set up this website that helped me raise money to complete an Associate’s degree. I successfully raised a total of $52,500 to pay for my education and transportation expenses, and that is thanks to all my friends and donors; without them, I would not have made it this far. I am also proud that when I was a student at MC, I contributed 50% of my work-study earnings for a total of $19,567.
On May 22, 2020, I graduated as the Honor Student of the year with an Associate of Arts in General Studies focused on: Humanities, Arts, Communication, and Languages. Like millions of 2020 grads in America, I graduated from home with my DC host family. Back in early March 2020, I was admitted to three colleges: Mount Holyoke, Smith College, and Dickinson College. After a critical evaluation, I accepted Smith College’s admission offer. Since Smith College offers a generous financial aid package, I am no longer seeking donation funds to support my education expenses.
To my friends and donors, I hope you will continue to follow me on my journey. Please read “My Story,” “Work Experience,” and “Writing Samples & Blog Posts.”
Thank you for your interest and your support.
My BLOG Posts
“One of the topics we will discuss today is consensual relationships,” teacher Kahna announced to her tenth graders, who seemed ready and eager to learn. This happened during my first week interning with Caring for Cambodia (CFC) at their school located on the outskirts of Siemreap city, Cambodia. I sat in the classrooms and learned
Today 47 years ago, the Khmer Rouge radical communists took over Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Initially, the Cambodian communists had been closely linked with and relied on the communist movement in Vietnam to fight French colonialism. The Khmer People’s Revolutionary Party (KPRP) was founded in 1951. A Cambodian scholar, Sok Udom Deth, argued
Washington DC, Spring 2022.
April 29, 2021: a conversation with my mother about death.
“Are you afraid of death?”
“I used to be afraid of death. But now, I am no longer scared of it. I sometimes wish it would take me sooner so all the pain I am experiencing will finally end.”
“What do you think will happen
Winter 2021, Northampton, Ma
Walking alone on a cold day in the New England weather, she is thinking about death. Death is the only thing that is definite to everyone. It certainly never changes; no matter who you are or how much wealth you own, you can’t avoid death. Everyone will die; no one will live
On Tuesday, August 31st, I called Edmond while walking back from Smith’s Welcome Back Orientation to my rented apartment. I said over the phone “I feel very exhausted to be surrounded by so many people.”
I still vividly remember the last time I sat in a normal classroom. It was in March 2020, my last semester
You’re turning 30 in less than a month. You’re thinking about getting a tattoo, the one you have always wanted for a while. You had asked a friend to design one for you. You told her that it was the last memory you have of being with your brother before he died. That last time
I video called my mother tonight through Facebook Messenger. My mom’s health condition has been declining for the past two years, and it is getting worse every day. I cannot imagine all the physical pain that she is going through each day. She spends almost all her days in bed and on a wheelchair. My
Every week by Thursday evening, my body feels exhausted, my brain starts freezing and my shoulders become really tense. I would then stand outside my apartment to catch a breath of fresh air as I hear my soul telling me “I’m exhausted.” This is not a new feeling; it has happened before. I now remember
In December 2020, for my final paper in Comparative Politics course, I wrote an Op-Ed research essay about Myanmar entitled, “We Can’t Rush Democracy: Myanmar Needs More Time.” In the essay, I noted the country’s complex political history, throughout its decades of independence, Myanmar has struggled with military rule, civil war, isolation from global affairs,
This morning I watched the PBS Live Streaming of the debate in the US House of Representatives on to impeach President Trump and remove him from office before Inauguration Day on Jan 20th, exactly a week from today. The congresswomen/men were debating whether to adopt an article of impeachment that accuses President Trump of “inciting
I scrolled through Instagram last night and it was Nov 9th in the motherland. A picture of the King Father, Norodom Sihanouk who freed Cambodia from the French colony on Nov 9, 1953 was posted on the Cambodia_Royal Instagram page. I liked the photo and went to bed.
This morning I wake up and it is
Most nights I dream about my artist life. Something always goes wrong in those dreams, either the light did not turn on stage, my teammates were late, or I missed my cue. Last night my artist life came back in the dream. This time I was ready for my cue, but my teammates decided to
As the new decade begins, I find myself wondering if the world is going insane. In 2019, the Amazon forest was on fire and at the beginning of 2020, Australia is on fire. Iranians are mad at Trump and it seems like WWIII is becoming a possibility. To me global warming is clearly a fact,
I sit across
the table from Asa at Nando’s in Dupont Circle and said, “I can’t believe I
am back. Three weeks at home feels like a dream.” The word “home” referred
to my homeland, Cambodia. I visited “home” for the first time after
living in America for 3 years and 1 month. To be exact I stayed in
Feminism is my favorite topic in this class. The history of feminism fascinates me because I am one of the many Cambodian women who grew up following the strict cultural rules that expected women to be proper and submissive in our male-lead society. In the book, “Political Ideologies,” the author, Andrew Heywood wrote that Feminist
My number one birthday wish this year is for myself to stay mentally and physically healthy, so that I can continue my exciting, yet challenging life journey in America, the land of opportunities. I thank my ancestors, the spirits of my father, brother and God Buddha for keeping me and my family in a safe
I cried last night. I cried because I felt the pain that my friend had. The feeling might not be exactly the same as she felt, but trust me, I could relate to it.
Have you ever felt lonely? confused about your life, not knowing what to do or where to go? I am sure you
Earlier this morning, I received a text alert from my school that the school delayed opening until 11am due to bad weather, which meant that all the morning classes were canceled. But, of course my classes were in the afternoon, so I had to go to school anyway. The school alerts are very accurate. When
My co-workers are minorities. They are adults in their late 20s. Kalen is half white half black. Matt is Spanish-American and Traven is African-American. I am Asian. After leaving work, we agreed to get dinner together to celebrate the holiday season. It took some time for us to choose a restaurant since our budget was
The world is full of mysteries. You may make plans for your life but you will not be able to control the unexpected events that can either tear you apart or bring you to joy. These unpredictable events come very often. Sometimes they come one at the time and sometimes they come as a group.