An ambitious conference to generate ideas on building Cambodia’s future will take place next month in Phnom Penh, where thinkers and doers will talk about Internet activism, social entrepreneurship, roles of arts and culture in Cambodian society and sustainable solutions to capacity building.
The TEDx Phnom Penh conference, set for Feb. 5, is an independent initiative modeled after the Technology Entertainment and Design conference held annually in Long Beach, Calif. It will be hosted by members of the private sector and non-governmental organizations “who have an interest in giving voice to dynamic individuals whose ideas are ‘worth spreading,’” according to the conference website.
After more than a year of planning, the TEDx conference recently announced four Cambodian speakers, who will join other participants at the Northbridge International School in Phnom Penh. I spoke to some of the nominees to get their thoughts ahead of the conference, which is themed, “Ideas Worth Spreading.”
Keo Kounila, a freelance journalists and graduate of the Royal University of Phnom Penh, said she will discuss how blogging “changes my life and how it will help build up the future of Cambodia.”
The 22-year-old said she was excited and nervous after she was invited to the conference in October.
“We need ideas to improve Cambodia, which is developing with growing pains,” she wrote. “We have to listen and be open to new ideas to improve the country, and those ideas can be found at TEDxPP where people invited to speak to the audience have something significant to say.”
Software developer Suy Channe said in an e-mail said Cambodians “have a lot to share and express, but in the past we don’t have many public events to accommodate. Somehow, for the past few years things started to change.”
Suy Channe, who studied at Bangalore University, in India, said the TEDx conference will help bring the thoughts of Cambodians “to the world.”
“It is a good movement for Cambodia,” she wrote.
Another speaker, Prim Phloeun, director of Cambodian Living Arts, will discuss “Transformation of a Nation through the Arts.” He called the event “a great way to communicate and to share experience and vision among young Cambodian emerging leaders.”
“I wish we can organize something in Khmer for Cambodians,” he said. “I would really want to see more Cambodians being involve in the future and make our own platform to speak and [for our] ideas to spread!”
Other Cambodian speakers will include Chapei Master Kung Nai, journalist Thet Sambath, author Seng Theary, and Sithen Sum, who is currently heading a project to “document the lives of prominent historic and current Cambodians”.
The TEDx conference in Phnom Penh hopes to emulate an annual event that has seen speakers like former US president Bill Clinton and Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. You can TED videos at the website here, which are good sources of knowledge and inspiration.
Fortunately I’ve just received a ticket and confirmed my attendance to TEDx Phnom Penh. Stay tuned to this Musings on Cambodia blog for more.