Much like the students that he teaches, Samnieng grew up in poverty. With four siblings and a father who is a landmine victim, his family struggled. Samnieng, as the oldest child, helped his mother farm throughout his childhood and then worked as a construction worker in high school.
In the midst of juggling school and work, he managed to find time to study English everyday despite his parents encouraging him to focus on earning money instead of pursuing an education. Despite their opinion, Samnieng pursued higher education at Dewey University. There, he met became friends with three classmates who were TASSEL teachers. He realized that TASSEL’s specific mission was very different from what he knew of other NGOs. Its foundation in sharing skills and compassion prompted him to apply for TASSEL. He initially had wanted to gain a college education to become a wealthy businessman, but his involvement with TASSEL has transformed him to committing to use his skills for serving the poor.
Samnieng spends at least two hours every night researching material to prepare for his lessons. Witnessing his students improving quickly gives joy to Samnieng.
Interacting with compassionate foreigners has helped Samnieng rethink about his spirituality; he has since become a Christian. While other NGOs in Cambodia might punish members who make mistakes, Samnieng says TASSEL provides him with the love and support that he needs to serve other people. He is grateful for TASSEL and wants to continually serve his country through TASSEL.
These are excerpts from an essay that Teacher Samnieng wrote about his life:
"I hope that when the children grow up, they know what they should do to help other children and the poor people in their villages. I never use violence or hit them like my teacher did to me. If they don’t come to school, I always go to their houses and ask why they didn’t come and what problems they are facing. Some students are always getting sick because they are poor and they eat unhealthy food. Other students are busy helping their parents farm, so they forget to do homework and are afraid of coming to school. I go to motivate them and then they start loving me. "
"I think I can help a lot of children and poor people through Tassel by teaching children and giving rice, clothes, and medicine to elderly people. Moreover, I can also help my parents, grandparents and my nephew. I hope Tassel continues to run these programs and a lot of foreigners continue to help."