This installment of “Stories from the Field” features the experiences of the University of Tennessee Chattanooga (UTC) Honors College 3-week group trip to Cambodia. It will be a 5 part series highlighting the meaningful work and experiences the students from UTC accomplished while volunteering in Cambodia with Global Service Corps.
Part 4: Youth for Peace Presentations
After an emotional and insightful day hearing from and speaking with the Khmer Rouge survivors at the Reconciliation Ceremony (click here to read about that experience), the students were ready to conduct their workshops for the children at Youth for Peace (YFP). The students were split into three groups and prepared presentations in three main categories: hygiene, female empowerment, and self esteem/emotional intelligence. Before the presentation the students had to learn about conducting presentations with a translator. Even though the students learned basic Khmer during orientation, they weren’t expected to know enough to do an entire presentation in the language! The translator explained to them how to speak slowly, clearly, and to not use slang words (apparently American English uses the most slang out of any language). The students really appreciated having a translator and as a bonus, they got along great!
Over the next two days the groups presented to the students at YFP. There were some challenges that the students had to overcome: Only one of the presentation rooms had the technological capabilities for a PowerPoint presentation so two of the groups had to improvise and amend their presentations a little. Also, some of the YFP children were younger than the UTC students expected but they rose above the challenges and learned to be more flexible in the process. They ended up wishing that they could have done longer presentations, but the time-frame was perfect because it held everyone’s attention and they were able to fill the 2 ½ days with quality, meaningful work.
The next two days at YFP the students helped out with other projects YFP needed done. The on-site library needed a lot of organizing. The students helped decorate, organize books, and move shelves. They also germinated seeds in YFP’s on-site garden. It felt like busy work at times but YFP needed the help so the students were happy to do it. It was valuable for the students to experience the kind of work typically needed in developing countries; it’s not always the most glamorous work but it needs to be done!
Check back tomorrow for our final post, Part 5 – the final days of the program!