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Democracy Activist Finishes Tour of US Political Landscape

Ok Amry, a democracy advocate for the Youth Council of Cambodia, recently completed a visit to the US, where he met several presidential candidates and learned, along with similar activists from six other countries, about US democracy.

His visit was a part of the International Visitors Leadership program, sponsored by the US State Department.

In Washington, Ok Amry, 29, said he learned about the American political process, from citizen involvement to the federal government's responsibilities.

In New Hampshire, he met US presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama, to learn about their campaign.

During the tour, Ok Amry said, he was impressed by his meeting with Kids for Democracy, a New Hampshire group that teaches children about the political process.

"With such organizations, young children are being exposed to the country's governmental process and democracy at a very early stage," Ok Amry told VOA Khmer in an interview before returning to Cambodia. "This is astonishing, as it shows that the country's foundation is strong, making the democractic system possible in the US."

"Unlike the US, many countries do not have a foundation for democracy, making a weak base for that body of government to exist there," Ok Amry said.

Seven other democracy activists attended this tour: two from the Philippines and one each from Japan, New Zealand, Tonga, Micronesia and Malaysia.

"This trip was very educational and influential for me on the democratic values of the US," Ok Amry said. "When I return to Cambodia, I will take all that I have learned and share this with the young citizens of our country. I will encourage young people to practice democracy in their daily lives and also ask the Youth Council of Cambodia to promote good citizenship throughout the country by creating democratic communities at home and school."

The Youth Council is a non-partisan NGO representing a coalition of five youth organizations: the Khmer Youth Association, Khmer Students Association, Student Movement for Democracy, Khmer Democratic Youth Association and the United Natural Khmer Students.