Socheata grew up in a bright yellow house on Koh Sdach, an island with a population of 700 that sits in the sea between Thailand and Cambodia.
There were bridges to the world: She played a game on her father’s phone, in which the words “San Francisco” popped up next a photograph of the city. But she thought San Francisco was an English vocabulary word for a certain kind of city, a fancy one.
When she was 10, she was lucky enough to be one of 110 students chosen from among thousands countrywide to attend the Liger Leadership Academy. Liger was founded in 2012 by an American financier who fell in love with Cambodia and saw it as a good place to start a ground-breaking school.