From my experience in Cambodia for the past week, I have learnt about a completely different perspective of life. It being my first time visiting southeast asia and a less economically developed country, I came across the acknowledgement of rural life and severe conditions that local families who are not financially stable experience. I had realised a conspicuous difference between hearing such facts from social media and actually visiting such place to deeply understand the atmosphere and see poverty in front of me.
In terms of my strengths, I have realised that I am a very hard-working individual. During the times where we’d help to build specific areas of the construction site or even work on other manual-labouring projects, I had made a huge contribution to particular tasks I was assigned. I almost worked non-stop taking a few water breaks, however the majority of the times I had put all my energy and effort to get closer to our expected outcome. That may have been the case that I couldn’t interact too much with the locals as much as I expected to do. I was too focused into labour that had restricted my time to spare some time exchanging idioms with the locals.
I believe the main challenge was to experience settling in a country that offers way limited resources compared to where we come from. It displays how fortunate we are in where we reside as of now. Visiting from a economically firm country, it gives us the idea to observe rural areas and see how we could help to sustain lives in need of standard resources that we could easily access but a struggle for them. In addition, working at the school construction site was another major challenge that I cannot forget. Manual labour doesn’t play a significant role in my life since I am encircled around school education, hence-wise it was a strain for me to adapt to such labour. Overcoming my time in the heat for hours pouring sweat and concentration was a great step-up for my physical capability.
In preparation for the experience, we helped each other fundraise attending weekly meetings with the HOPE Cambodia team whilst discussing ideas for upcoming events that help give an in-sight into the service trip. We were able to collaborate with each other, supporting each other’s backs whilst we help them achieve their goals alongside mine.
During the trip, I had worked with other trip participants effectively along with the locals as well. We each had our own ideas to reach the outcome for the day. Despite so, we were able to agree amongst each other and accumulate those ideas to formulate an idea that we could all agree upon. For instance, when we were assigned to groups to come up with ideas dedicating teaching skills to provide english lessons to the local students, we had gone back and forth with the brainstorming of such ideas since on the top of our minds even though we learn such language in an advanced level in school, it was a challenge to bring up basic ideas that could possibly help understand the basis of such Lengua Franca.
Visiting poor families with the guidance of the HOPE Office in Cambodia, I had encountered numerous global issues that range from water shortage to financial instability that all sum up the global issue of “poverty”. Before attending the trip, I had researched the financial status/economy of Cambodia seeing how the majority of the population are suffering under scarce situations with taxation and insufficient subsidies for the access of basic needs such as shelter, medication etc. Acknowledging those statistics and correlating to what I discerned from the trip, I have learnt the severity of suffocation and perceiving families working day and night-out to obtain basic needs pained me immensely, in a way that I felt a mixture of gratefulness and guiltiness for the life I am living right now in such a stable country.
Visiting the killing fields in Phnom Penh and Angkor Watt Temple in Siem Reap really symbolised the horrific event that petrified the Cambodians known for the “Khmer Rouge” which put millions of lives into fatal deaths. Learning such tragedy from the survivors and imagine what life would have been back then, it really tied into some of the subjects I take at school: History and Economics. Seeing how a disastrous event led to the drastic changes in people’s lives of today, I had learnt about the communist parties in Cambodia back in the 1970s whereas I currently study about Mao’s China in History, relating some key historical aspects and what both authoritarian leaders intend to achieve from their actions to take over power from their countries. Furthermore, studying subsidies and taxation in economics led to my understanding of the lack of funding in rural areas of Phnom Penh, Pursat etc. although it is said to be eased and better than before.
I would improve my communication skills as it was quite the effort to overcome the language barrier being difficult to interpret one another. I could’ve engaged more with the locals to acquire their perspectives of the project and how it had developed over the past couple of years since HOPE foundation has commenced.
Overall, from this experience I am able to build up a more solid background to what I know of the world that I had not acknowledged or only heard about before. Seeing a rural country for the first time in my life made my come to the realisation that I have more to see in life. Only living and seeing MEDCs wouldn’t have broaden my knowledge on such aspects I discern in different countries whether it ties into culture, tradition, economy etc. Coming back from this experience, I still wonder how the Cambodian people’s lives have changed over the years since HOPE had been established the poor in need. As of now, I have not yet witnessed the development of ameliorated access to resources such as water wells implemented in poor families homes.