photo by Oso
Sopheap blogs at ifocus with the tagline “three dimensions of life.” She is the Advocacy and Public Relation Officer for the Cambodian Center for Human Rights. She has worked for that NGO for almost two years. She started her blog this year in May, 2007 because it was an opportunity for self-expression. Her blog covers social, political, and economic global issues from the perspective of young Cambodian professional. She is also a terrific live blogger! I am grateful for her detailed notes from the Cambodian Bloggers Summit.
She also lead the session on "Gender and Blogging" (I will post a summary of that session as soon as recover from jet lag!)
Why did you start to blog?
I took a trip to Ratanakiri, a remote province to the north and indigenous people. This was a trip to bring urban young people to experience life in a rural area and to deliver school supplies for children who live in the province and are very poor. Be Chantra, a member of the clogger team, had introduced the young people to the idea and benefits of blogging. This is where I learned to set up a blog and I wrote about the trip here.
I did not have a computer backround, so it was difficult in the beginning because I wanted to design and have it look nice but didn't know how do it. With the commitment to start the blog, I asked expert people and used self-learnin to master the techniques. I found other blogs and looked at the styling so I could figure out what the possibilities.
What are some of the benefits?
I can communicate with other people who I know face-to-face and those who I don't know. I like the fact that I can have conversations with my readers in the comments. I can talk about my volunteer efforts to help poor children in the remote province. So, people who find my blog can learn about these efforts and maybe help. Also, the donors can see that they accomplished their mission. I hope that my blog can be a discussion space.
Do you write about your job or work?
I cover the topics that relate to my job, but not my organization. I want to share information. For example, there are many human rights violations in our country. I hope that people can find out the information and what is really happening and what the Cambodian perspective is. There are some specific issues related to women that I'm not scared to speak my mind about this issue because I feel it is important to bring attention to it.
Many people in Cambodia are afraid to express their ideas about human rights and other issues. People are afraid to implement their rights. So, I want to use my blog to exercise my right to freedom of expression or otherwise we are self-censoring.
How come there are not so many BlogHers in Cambodia?
There are women blogging in Cambodia. Not as many women here at the conference because it is happening during a work day and the women are working.
I found people saying that women only blog for personal blogs. Gender in blogging is about personality. Many females in Cambodia are majoring in politics and economics and like to discuss those issues, but the obstacle is the technical work - knowing how to use the computer. Of course, there is problem with Internet access.
Not many women like to study technology and computer use in Cambodia. There is a cultural bias towards men to be IT majors. Mostly women prefer to major in subjects that require critical thinking versus hands-on technical knowledge like computers.