Go and Challenge Your Worldview
It was a long flight, and by the time we finally made it to Phnom Penh my feelings were a soup of nervousness, excitement, and exhaustion. It made me feel like I was dreaming. As the minibus took us to the volunteers’ house I stared out of the window and tried to take everything in: the twinkling New Year lights, street vendors, whole families crammed onto single motorbikes. This would be home for the next three months.
I came to Cambodia with preconceived notions of poor people in shacks, but I soon realised the naivety of my ideas.
For richer and poorer
The Montessori school where I had been placed worked with small numbers of children, with an emphasis on practical activities. All 30 of the children pay – some in fruit and vegetables – to attend, and this makes them appreciate the value of what they’re receiving.
The school doesn’t just focus on Cambodia’s poorest children. At first this struck me as crazy, but now I understand that the better-educated ones are the future of Cambodia, and if they’re able to reach the highest standards of education it could offer real long term benefits to the country as a whole.
I was incredibly keen on teaching, so my volunteering rep arranged for my teaching partner (Anna) and I to go and lead some extra lessons at an orphanage. So three evenings a week we went over to teach an hour’s lesson to a class of around twelve teenagers. It proved to be quite a challenge, but delivering our carefully planned lesson to a class of eager students felt like we were making a real difference.
Not just a holiday
That made it feel better than if the whole trip had been about fun and giggles. I was glad to experience some hard work, both emotionally and physically, so that I finished my time in Cambodia with a real sense of fulfilment.
Outside of teaching I also had the opportunity to travel around Cambodia, and I absolutely fell in love with the country. There are experiences there that won’t fade from my memory for as long as I live. I have seen the rich and the poor and, by working within the community for three months, I feel like I really got to know the country and expanded my view of the world. There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be back.
An Amazing Experience in Cambodia
If you want to follow in Kate's footsteps and experience this beautiful country, check out our Cambodia Experience adventure.