Goh Ke Pei

Goh Ke Pei


Life does not always give you what you want, but if you look closely you will see that it gives what you needs for growth.

I am Ke Pei, a typical third year chemical engineering student. My life was always smooth and I did not face any failures before. I had excellent results, protection from my parents, and a comfortable life. However, when entering university, I started to think: was I going to lead such a life until the end of my days? Getting good results just to get a good job in the future and secure my life? This was definitely not my ultimate life goal.

Last August, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and took up a volunteer teacher role in Cambodia. This was definitely not an easy journey for me. Culture shock happened once I arrived at Phnom Penh airport: A language which I was unfamiliar with, living conditions which I was unfamiliar with and faces which I was unfamiliar with.

I still remembered the first day in the class, my students were curious about me and asked a lot of questions. However, I couldn't answer them any because I could not understand their language. I was kind of disappointed at the beginning and wondered if I was suited to be there. However, I decided to learn some Khmer language from the local teachers. The English level of the students was so low we couldn't understand each other. As time went on, I started to be able to communicate with them in simple English, Khmer or even body language. In Cambodia, parents and students did not give attention to education. They were always absent with the excuse of work. Young students needed to go over to tourist spots to sell souvenirs.

When I was their age, what I thought about every day was which cartoon to watch. However, what they were thinking of was whether they had enough food for the day. I started to believe education is the most powerful tool to change this world. I tried to design interesting English classes to encourage students to attend every day. I didn't want to see my previous students begging along the roadside if I had the chance to return to Cambodia in the future.

One day before I departed to Malaysia, the students tried their best to write a letter for me. The whole time I taught in Cambodia, I had never seen them writing so much English. It really touched me!

If I didn't choose to go on on this journey, I wouldn't have realised what was happening in other parts of the world. I wouldn't know how many difficulties they have to face every day compared to me. This journey inspired me a lot. It led me to think of we should not only lead our lives for ourselves, but also to serve society. If everyone cared about the social issues happening around us, the world would be a better place.