When I booked the Sustainable Community Development project in Cambodia, I had no idea what to expect. I could not be more pleased with how my time in Cambodia played out! I found so much happiness volunteering in Cambodia. The school itself has a captivating atmosphere, with very colorful open-air classrooms, and children playing and laughing in every direction. There are always new projects going on – within my time two classrooms were built and many walls were painted! The beauty of the site creates an encouraging learning environment, and the kids themselves make you fall in love with the school. They are truly eager to learn and very appreciative and respectful of their teachers.
Before this trip I had no experience teaching and I was quite nervous about it- I wasn’t sure if I had the skill. However, when you see these kids staring at you, you find a way and you make it happen. I felt personally invested in the success of my students and the longer I was there the better I felt I understood the different types of teaching and learning that worked best for my different students. For this reason I encourage prospective volunteers to stay as long as you possibly can.
Any amount of time spent helping these kids is great of course, but the longer you stay the more meaningful and purposeful your efforts become. Most volunteers were very sad to leave and wanted to stay longer, so I would advise to plan for a longer stay if you can. My original trip was for two months, which I extended to three months total because I just wasn’t ready to leave! During my stay I also met three returning volunteers who had already volunteered at this school before, so there is obviously something magnetic about this place! I know for a fact that I will return as well.
I have not had the opportunity to travel much yet, but from my experience here I think that volunteering is the best way to travel. You are involved in the community and have the opportunity to engage with other people on a deeper level. I traveled many different places and temples on the weekends, but was happy to be going to the school Monday through Friday. There are options to accommodate your interests – you could volunteer teaching, construction, at the hospital or with medical outreach. The volunteer house is very well accommodated, the food is always fresh and delicious, and the family who also lives there is lovely to be around. The coordinators are one-of-a-kind, amazing people with the biggest smiles and best attitudes! I cannot emphasize enough what I great time I had here. I hope many others get to experience this place in their lifetime — it is an inspiring experience!