- Could you tell me what a typical day at school is like? Dane, UK
I wake up at 5.30 when it’s dark, but I don’t have an alarm – I just know when to! I share a room with my younger sister Srey Pich and best friend Tola and Srey Leak. We have a lot of fun together and usually go to bed at around 10 (…or later). I get dressed and eat rice for breakfast with chicken or egg – then I go to school at 7.00am, chat and hang out or review my lessons. At 7.30 we all sing the National Anthem and raise the French and Cambodian flags. At school I like Art, French, Ethics and IT– English too of course! Afterwards we like to buy mango from the sellers outside school and dip it in a mix of chilli, salt and sugar. If we have time we hang out at the sports hall with all the different year groups and chat with everyone. Days are fun – there is lots of joking with my friends and teachers!
- Being a boarding resident sounds like a lot of fun! What do you like to do at weekends? Becky, Wirral
On the weekends we sometimes cook with Mimi (the boarding house matron) or go to Phnom Penh with her to Dreamland, an amusement park. When I have free time I like to do sewing or make clothes like tops and skirts. We play games with the other girls from the boarding house and the volunteers at the school, watch movies or play ping pong. Last weekend many professionals from Phnom Penh came to our school and gave us career advice. The design agency was my favourite speaker.
- What is the most important thing you have learnt at Happy Chandara School? Yolanda, UK
Well, I have learnt so many things, it’s hard to say what the most important is! Sewing Class and Art Class have helped the most because now I know what I want to do in the future. But I have also met so many friends and teachers, learnt to be confident and have dreams for the future.
- What do you like most about living in Cambodia? Amy, Newbury
I like Cambodia because the people are sociable and smile a lot, the weather is not too hot, not too cold and we don’t have many natural disasters like earthquakes. I like the landscape and temples and our school is in the countryside but near to the Phnom Penh so I have both experiences. In the future I want to live in Paris for some time then come back to Cambodia and help my country.
- What did you think of Angkor Wat? Dane, UK
I first went to Angkor Wat with my mum and sister when I was 9 years old, and it felt very different when I went back with my school. It left a big impression on me and I remember feeling proud and amazed we have such beautiful temples that have been here for so many years. I was amazed that the people could build something so beautiful. Now, because I’ve done lots of Khmer studies and research I know a lot about it. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve visited and would like to go back again.
- Great that you want to be a fashion designer. What sort of clothes are your favourite to design and is there anyone in particular you would like to see wearing your clothes? Lucy, London
Tops and skirts and Krama – a type of scarf very common in Cambodia. I like to repair and reuse ripped or damaged clothes and make something new out of them. I wanted to become a designer because I like to sketch new ideas, to sew and be creative. I would like my sister, friends and singers like Sokun Kanha to wear my clothes.
- I have a passion for cooking and have a question for you, what is your favourite dish to make for your family and friends? Camilla, Thame
I mostly know how to cook Khmer food, but I recently learned to cook ratatouille and pasta – I really like it! I think Khmer food is delicious, simple, and easy to cook. I like to make clear soup with vegetables and meat or fish, fresh salad with peanuts and cucumber and fried rice – just a little bit spicy. To drink maybe a fresh fruit drink.
- I love Athletics too! What's your favourite Olympic sport? Lucy, Sevenoaks
My favourite Olympic sports are Athletics, Volleyball and Swimming. I enjoy running fast so my favourite distances are between 60-100m, but next week I will do a long run at the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh. My favourite team sports to watch are basketball and football and Vatthanaka is my favourite football player. Cambodia beat Thailand last week – I was very proud that Cambodia won!
- If you could spend an afternoon with anyone in the world who would it be and why? Yolanda, UK
Many people! I would like to meet Mean Sonyta, an artist and designer of kramas and other clothes from Cambodia for young women. Her modern style inspires me and she’s a successful woman in Cambodia. I would ask her many questions to help me! Like... what it’s like working as a designer, how many years it took her to be famous, who she designed for in the past, why she became a fashion designer… But I am most happy when I’m with my friends and family, so they would have to be with me too.
Thanks to everyone who sent their questions, and of course to Ly Him for her answers and beautiful photos. Although I’m not sure I can agree with Cambodia being “not too hot” ... If you have any more questions for the students, I’d be happy to ask.
Written by James