How IDEAL was founded:
Inspired By Hardships
IDEAL was founded by UCLA students, Eleanor and Donald Ung in the Fall 2007. They were inspired to start IDEAL through their father, Jou Lee Ung’s story of surviving the 1975-1979 Khmer Rouge Genocide in Cambodia. Cambodia at the time was ruled by a communist leader by the name of Pol Pot, whom the Cambodians believed would steer the country towards peace, happiness and human equality. Instead, over 2 million Cambodians died as a result of his poor leadership. Jou Lee Ung suffered hardships such as starvation, lack of sufficient clothing during winters, and unbearably witnessing the death of his close family and friends by Khmer Rouge soldiers.
Importance of Dreaming
“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” – Albert Einstein
Jou Lee Ung dreamed of becoming a lawyer in Cambodia where he would involve himself in politics to help a greater scale of Cambodians. Born in Battambong in a family of farmers from China who moved to Cambodia to create a better life to support their children, Jou Lee was exposed to the working class which motivated him to become an educator to help the working class people like his parents and grandparents.
Because of the Cambodian Communist Regime, he was forced to end his education early as a young adult and work in the farm with the other forced Cambodian civilians.
IDEAL’s epic ambition is to inspire people all around the world to dream. IDEAL started as a small club with nothing but a room in the basement of the Math and Science Building in UCLA. Today, IDEAL prepares to host a speech contest event in UCLA’s largest event room, the Ackerman Ball Room, which involves the participation of numerous clubs from UCLA. IDEAL desires to serve as the symbol of dreaming big.