Marina Yoeung

A leader for the future, a voice for the past

During what then President Nixon called a successful secret bombing strategy of Cambodia, the US dropped a million more pounds of explosives than what was used on Japan during all of WWII, killing some 500,000 people and displacing a third of the country. This led to a disastrous reactionary policy of social engineering, a radical form of agrarian communism under Khmer Rouge dictator Pol Pot, evacuating cities, relocating the population into collective farms or forced labor camps, and either exterminating or causing the deaths of as many as two to three million people in what came to be known as the killing fields. A motto was “To keep you is no benefit. To destroy you is no loss.” Taken from parents who might remember free-market activities, children were frequently raised by the state and brainwashed.

Marina Yoeung wants this story told so the world does not forget, so that a history so monstrous will never be repeated. She was born in the capital, Phnom Penh in 1985, six years after the fall of the Khmer Rouge. Yet the country was still in chaos, unable to recover from the trauma, starvation, exhaustion, and untreated diseases since even doctors were killed off as intellectuals. Marina’s parents died in the turmoil, her grandparents and extended family lost. Today, life is better, but Marina feels that educated young leaders with vision and international backgrounds are essential to freeing the country from its past and building a better future for Cambodia.

Marina takes the idea of leadership beyond a traditional role, saying that everyone should be trained for leadership in order to be ready when the opportunity to make a difference comes. Even in small situations, everyone has a gift to offer, and leadership potential shouldn’t be wasted. While earning her degree in English for International Business at the Institute of Foreign Languages through the Royal University of Phnom Penh, Marina also participated in many activities. One in particular provided her with an unexpected experience of leadership through caring for orphans at the Projects for Asia Charitable Foundation. In coping with challenges, loving the little ones, supporting them emotionally, encouraging their discoveries, and playing games with them, especially the AIDS orphans, she learned that “Leadership is not just for people at the top.”

Marina received a scholarship from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to study as an exchange student in South Korea for a year, learning to work with nine different Asian countries at Daejeon University’s Institute of International Affairs. While in Korea, she also completed an internship for BlueQnet, Inc, and received training in computer programming. She traveled to Beijing, China as a student representative and visited Singapore and Malaysia. Marina speaks English, Chinese, Cantonese, Korean, Khmer, and “fair” Japanese. From Norton University, which boasts “the Best IT Education Center in Cambodia,” she received additional accreditation in computer science. With plans for master’s degrees in the future, Marina is poised to make a difference.