Seventeen-year-old Muth Sovannara is not like most Cambodian teenagers. For starters, he speaks three languages – his native Khmer, the English he spent most of his life studying, and, for three years now, Mandarin.
Each weekday, he wakes early to get to his high school at 7am.
After four hours of lessons in Khmer, the teenager packs his bag and returns home for an afternoon nap.
It is rest he will sorely need. Later in the day, Sovannara goes for an hour of English classes before heading to Mandarin lessons at the Duan Hua School, just outside Kandal Market.
Coping with three languages is a challenge, he admits, but Mandarin is the toughest of all. In order to keep up, Sovannara stays awake until midnight most days to “fu xi gong ke”, he says, using the Mandarin term for revision.
But the long hours, says Sovannara, are worth it. “I…
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