The year which just ended was a welcome relief from the tumultuous two years that preceded it.

2022 was when the government’s successful Covid-19 management strategies – especially its world-beating vaccination campaign – bore fruit and allowed the official reopening of the country and the return of economic activity and freedom of movement.

Entrepreneurs and the owners of large enterprises were still paralysed with uncertainty throughout last year, with fears of further pandemic related issues and the dangers represented by the conflict in Ukraine leading to a slowdown in investment.

It appears that a cautious optimism has taken hold for the new year. Nowhere is this clearer than in the hearts and minds of the Kingdom’s young.

Ly Vutha has just graduated and has already made many plans for 2023. He believes he will accomplish more in the coming year than he was able to in 2022.

“Because I have just graduated, I have many projects that I want to get started on. It is time for me to think about my life goals. I believe that in 2023, things will get better and there will be no obstacles standing between me and my plans,” he said.

21-year-old Vutha, who is currently working for a private company, has faith that this will be a great year for him.

Sum Chantrea, who is currently studying in her fourth year at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, shared his optimism.

“I haven’t been able to set many goals in the past few years, as I have been so focused on protecting myself. Frankly, I spent most of my time thinking of how to avoid a Covid-19 infection,” she said.

“This year, I think things are going to be better. We can travel, the markets are once again busy, and I have a lot of plans,” she added.

She described her plans for 2023 without hesitation. She wants to graduate with good results, and hopefully earn a scholarship to study abroad.

“I am optimistic that this year will be an improvement on the previous ones. It certainly can’t be worse! The Covid situation appears to have settled, so I think this will be a good year,” she said.