I learned a lot during my time spent working alongside a team of Cambodian millennial professionals. I was impressed with the vast group of young, open minded individuals so eager to build a portfolio of skills that could be applied to this new age of thinking. I worked for a Cambodian company called eOcambo Hospitality Group. My main role in the company was digital marketing for hotels and for a volunteer program. Throughout my time with this company, I observed many interesting trends that played a huge role in shifting my perspective on how we obtain and apply our knowledge in today’s world.
I was so keen to find out where this thirst for knowledge that the young Cambodian’s showed came from. It’s a thirst quite different to that of a millennial from the West. In Australia, we have some of the best Universities on the planet. Not to mention, the access to a free flowing supply of educational content from individuals and companies who release digital content on a daily basis. This access to information is insane and it is starting to create an abundance of opportunity for those who engage in such material.
As I continued working alongside these Cambodian millennial’s, I began learning more about the country and it’s horrific past. The Khmer Rouge genocide in the 1970’s resulted in the death of half of the Cambodian population. Along with the destruction, all forms of education was obliterated, stripping Cambodia down to an agricultural society with a main purpose to ‘start over’. The highly educated were targeted first, resulting in the murder of many of Cambodia’s teachers, doctors, scientists and artists.
Besides the death of half the population, the destruction of their education lead to one of the most devastating crisis’ in the history of Cambodian society. Since then, Cambodia has spent the last 40-50 years trying to rebuild an education system that is relevant and sustainable. With the help of many Western funded and operated non-government organisations, more and more children are gaining access to better educational resources. That is just one aspect, however. It seems as though basic, conventional education no longer holds the title as being the main source of learning anymore – welcome to the age of digital dominance.
Once you look into the past of Cambodia and you connect the dots to the present, you then start to beg questions about the future. How has technology changed the game for these young individuals of contemporary Cambodia? The increase in connectivity has seen a rapid rise in employment opportunities in Cambodia, with now ⅔ of the population in work as of 2012. It is now easier for young Cambodians’ to reach larger audiences when branding their businesses or themselves. Cambodian’s now have access to educational resources from countries all over the world. With the sharing of information and this rise in connectivity, this may be the beginning of many good things to come for the young Cambodian’s of today who stand at the front line, striving to build a better future for their nation.
For most, growing up in a nation where poverty, illness and violence is prevalent, it is natural to find many individuals who have a strong sense of necessity. Being products of an environment where scarcity is ubiquitous, it isn’t a wonder why some of these young Cambodian’s are so thirsty for knowledge. I was extremely impressed to find out that some of my peers had access to the same online information as what I had. It is now as simple as purchasing a $12 course from online education platforms like Udemy, Skillshare and Shaw Academy, in order to learn a new skill. We are so connected now that we are able to learn from some of the most influential people of the modern day, and they don’t even need to know that we exist.
This opens up new doors for Cambodian educators, students, employees and entrepreneurs. This new trend in technology has seen innovative concepts like Cambo Market – free online food delivery service, and PassApp – online tuktuk service which operates like Uber, come to life and they are thriving. The fields of digital marketing, graphics design and web development are also becoming increasingly popular among many young University students, as the trend in online services continue to flourish.
One of the responsibilities I have taken on since noticing this trend in technology is to share as much information as I can. Coming from a place where education and information is in abundance, I have tried my best to share as much knowledge with my peers as possible, introducing them to Western online sources on topics like digital marketing, graphics design and much more.
I am interested in learning more about how we can use technology to help us move forward personally and collectively. I feel as though the internet is a representation of life, itself. The internet is and will continue to become a separate reality from that of the physical world. This begs the question – are there any lessons we can learn from our physical experience that can be applied to our digital one?
If we observe our physical world, there are certain things that we learn through maturation such as, you are what you eat.
Is the content on your Facebook newsfeed for your mind, like food for your body? If our lives are becoming increasingly more present in this digital reality, it may be important for us to be conscious of what we are feeding ourselves, personally and collectively.
Many believe that we are at the very beginning of the digital revolution; that we are living through the years that will one day be referred to as the internet’s infancy. So, how will this rise in connectivity and information transform humanity as we navigate our way through this never ending series of problems that we are required to solve?