Thought I Would Never…

By: Sreang Boromey (Business Management major)

It was like a dream; a dream that I never wanted to end. Having the opportunity to experience life in United States is a blessing that I have never thought I would experience. I would like to express a special thanks to the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy of Phnom Penh for giving me this amazing opportunity. Also would like to express my exceptional appreciation to all UC faculty members, especially my Dean, Ms. Gina Lopez, who always pushes and encourages me to challenge myself to reach for the next level.

YSEALI is an incredible program that I would recommend all fellows to apply for. Every day was a new adventure that was completely different from my life at home. American higher education is a big WOW! The University of Connecticut was so big that it took me few days to explore. Within the campus, you can find anything ranging from academic facilities such as study halls and research sources, to entertainment in-cluding game rooms, stadiums, and a gymnasium. You would never get bored within the campus and it was very socializing; there are thousands of student clubs that everyone can get involved with including the Asian American Center, and the Cambodian Student Association. Faculty members are so supportive and approach-able which allows students to make most out of their studies. During my time at the University of Connecticut, I was taught various courses in Entrepreneurship and Economic Development including financial literacy, strategic planning, marketing, leadership, funding, grant writing, as well as business pitch.

My time in the U.S. with YSEALI was not only an eye-opening experience towards the high standard of education, but also it was a life learning experience for me. During the exchange program, there were vari-ous community service activities that I was able to be apart of. Those community service activities included playing sports with underprivileged kids, harvesting vegetables in the forge community for the poor and homeless people, and working in a kitchen that aims to employ homeless people. These activities have taught me a lot about life and that we should appreciate what we have because many others are not as fortunate, even if they live in a developed country. Moreover, these activities also show me about the social contribution in American society, which focuses on long-term help through employment and education.

Aside from my in class studies and community service activities, I had the opportunity to visit social enterprise and government offices in different states across the United States as well. This helped me to learn the practical knowledge about building an enterprise and how to start up a business from scratch. It is a price-less experience that I believe I could never have obtained anywhere else besides those business owners.

SREANG Boromey, a senior majoring in Business Management at University of Cambodia, was selected as one of the YSEALI Academic Fellows under the theme “Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development” during Fall semes-ter at University of Connecticut. “YSEALI” stands for the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative. Launched in 2013, U.S. President, Barack Obama launched this program to strengthen leadership development and networking in Southeast Asia. Through a variety of programs and engagements, including U.S. educational and cultural exchanges, regional exchanges, and seed funding, YSEALI seeks to build the leadership capabilities of youth in the region, strengthen ties between the United States and Southeast Asia, and nurture an ASEAN community. YSEALI focuses on critical topics identified by youth in the region: civic engagement, environment and natural resources management, and entrepreneurship and economic development.