Putting a Cambodian childhood and Danish youth to use at NordCham

As a young teenager, Ghekhuoy Lim from Cambodia moved to Denmark and lived there for seven years. The now 24-years old Khmer woman has returned to her home country and uses her experiences from Denmark at NordCham as a trainee. But she does not want to stay in neither Cambodia or Denmark – she wants to visit new countries and gain more knowledge.

The traffic was one of things that struck Ghekhuoy Lim as a major difference between Denmark and Cambodia, when she sat foot in Copenhagen for the first time as a 13-years old teenager. The traffic was well-organized and most impressively there were bicycle lanes and sidewalks almost anywhere. It was far from the streets of Cambodia where you must search for sidewalks, definitely do not find bicycle lanes and always have to keep an eye out for scooters who might accidentally run you over.

“At first, I knew nothing about Denmark. I didn’t even know where it was,” remembers 24-years old Ghekhuoy Lim, who two years ago moved back to Phnom Phen, the capital of Cambodia, after seven years in Copenhagen and Køge.

Back in 2009, Ghekhuoy Lim’s mother chose to leave Phenom Phen after her sister, who was based in Copenhagen, encouraged her to move. It was getting to hard to live in Cambodia and she believed her two young daughters would be better of in the Nordics.

The Danish traffic might seemed impressive, but moving more than 9,000 kilometers away was not easy: “It was a whole new culture, the language was difficult and I missed my grandparents,” Ghekhuoy Lim recalls.

She was enrolled into a class for foreign students to learn Danish in Copenhagen. After three months, her teacher found her language skills good enough to let her move into a regular Danish school class.

Houy Lim Ghek tells her story to ScandAsia in English. Even though she claims her Danish is rusty, she easily answers unexpected questions in Danish and she pronounces the name of her school, Hastrup skolen, as well as any Dane.

When she shifted into her new class, she noticed a difference between Danish and Cambodian tweens: “In my experience, teenagers in Denmark are more open-minded and easy going.”

Trainee at NordCham

In order to study International relations and political science at Paññāsāstra University of Cambodia in Phnom Phen, Ghekhuoy Lim choose to move back to her home country in 2016, while her family stayed in Denmark. She was returning home, but just as leaving was hard, coming back was difficult too: “It was hard to catch up with the Cambodia society.”

Once again, the traffic was one of the things that stood out to her when she came back:
“I was used to go around by bus, train or bicycle in Copenhagen. In Cambodia the transportation makes it hard to go anywhere.”

Even though Denmark and Cambodia share few similarities, she has put her Danish experiences to use. Four months ago, she became a trainee at the Nordic Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia, usually known as NordCham. The chamber of commerce arranges events for their members from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland. Ghekhuoy Lim is no strange to the countries, since she has visited all of them, expect from Iceland.

As a coordinator, it is her job to coordinate these events: “I have learnt how to coordinate projects and preparing an event for many people. It’s a good experience for me.”

Furthermore, she also likes to share information about the Nordic countries. In her experience, few Cambodians have knowledge about the Scandinavian countries, just like herself before she moved there.

“In general, I feel like people in Cambodia maybe know France and Germany, but besides that they don’t really know much about European countries. Also, there are not so many Nordic companies in Cambodia, so I think it is an interesting area to work with,” she says.

New places bring new knowledge

Ghekhuoy Lim’s years in Denmark has left a positive impression of the country that she calls small, but nice. She especially thinks the Scandinavian welfare system holds value, because it in general takes care if its people’s healthcare and education.

Welfare system or not, Denmark cannot, after all, compete with Cambodian food in her opinion. But she is not planning on staying in Cambodia, but neither does she want to return to Denmark. Not because she does not like the countries, but because she wants to get new experiences: “New places have different experiences, people and culture,” she explains.

She wants to go to Europe to study her Master when she finishes her studies in Cambodia in 2019.

Her interest in international relations started already as a kid, when she watched diplomates on the news. That created a childhood dream of one day becoming an Ambassador. Today she is working towards another goal: She wants for work for embassies in different countries. That also has roots in her childhood, since some of her family worked at embassies.

Both herself and her family thinks her hunt for new knowledge and interest in international relations would match well with a job on an embassy.

The dream of one day becoming an Ambassador still lives though: “But right now I just concentrate on getting experiences,” she says.

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