Once a Cambodian Orphan, Pattica San hopes to encourage and inspire other orphans through summer internship

Written by: 
Tomson Cheang

Pattica San, a Cambodian sophomore majoring in business management, said he was raised in an orphanage. San shared how he is going back to Cambodia this summer to help and encourage other orphans based on his own experiences.


San recalled how back in 2005 when he was in an orphanage, a group of students and teachers from BYUH came to visit the orphanage, and he was greatly inspired by them. “They came to give us school supplies and gave a speech. I was 11 at the time, and I didn’t know anything about the university, but I told myself, ‘That’s the kind of university I want to go to.’”


He said he is going back to Cambodia for a school project, but in his free time, he will go to orphanages and schools located in countryside areas to encourage children there. He explained, “They have no tables or chairs. They put books on the ground and lay down to take notes when the teacher writes something.


“I’m going to tell them I had the same problem when I was young. I’ll tell them ‘Never give up what they have now. One day, you will not only have chairs and tables, but you’ll sit in an air-conditioned room. There will be laptops and slides in front of you,’” continued San.


San explained how most young people in Cambodia choose to drop out from school to work and earn money. “They need to know the importance of education. A job can give instant money of a little amount. But education is the key for them to get out of generational poverty. They can’t give up on that.”


San said helping orphanages and charity organizations in Cambodia to be financially self-reliant is also important. He said, “They only rely on donations. What if there’s a month they don’t have donations? The kids will be starving.”


According to San, professors of entrepreneurship, business management, and hospitality and tourism management are coming to Cambodia for the school project too. “We can help them build some business. It can be handcrafting, planting, or even performing traditional dances. Not just relying on donations, they can make an income by themselves too.


“Or maybe they already have things to sell but don’t know where to find their markets. Then we can teach them how to do that,” said San.


At church, San will also encourage more young friends to pursue education, especially applying for BYUH. “I know it’s hard for them to come but I’ll tell them how great BYUH is to empower them to solve the difficulties they face in the application process.”


San shared how in Cambodia, most returned missionaries face stress from different aspects. He explained, “Especially the ones whose parents aren’t members, their parents are super mad. Those young people came back and they have no job or education. There wasn’t much immediate support for the YSAs from the church either. Many of them became less-active.


“So come to BYUH. I’ll talk to them and teach them how to do the application,” San said. “How many parents would not like their children to study in the U.S.A.? The first time they left home for their missions, their parents were mad at them, but this time, they leave home to study. Their parents will be proud of them.”


Delphia Lloyd, a friend of San’s and a freshman from Idaho studying hospitality and tourism management, said she learned to always have faith in herself because of San.


“Whenever I talk to San, he always shows me how to see myself in a positive light and encourages me to keep moving forward. I sincerely look up to his example of faith in the Lord and in himself,” shared Lloyd.


San said he’s excited for this experience and he wished summer could come sooner. “How many people get to go back to their home country for a school project? And at the same time, we can help poor people who are struggling. What a great summer break.”


San said people should give hope to poor children instead of underestimating them. “They are poor students now, but years later, they can be pilots. They can be businessmen. You need to see them as the future of the country.”


Vannanoeun Roth, a friend of San’s who is a freshman majoring in business management from Cambodia, described San as a person with a big dream. “His background was not easy, but he never let it hold him back from reaching his dream for a better education.”



Date Published: 
Monday, July 16, 2018
Last Edited: 
Monday, July 16, 2018