Eleven students and two chaperones journeyed to the Siem Reap province of Cambodia to work with Caring for Cambodia in the construction of a new school building. Caring for Cambodia is a non-profit organization that builds and maintains classrooms and facilities, mentors and trains teachers, provides school supplies and tools and cares for students by providing food, transportation and health care.
The students brought with them hundreds of new toothbrushes that they collected to give to the students in the Amelio school, where the group reconstructed one of its buildings and enjoyed playing with the students throughout their visit. The students also toured the area, visiting the Landmine Museum and local markets and learning about the local khmer language and culture. They served soup at some local schools, or as Parker Young '12 described it, "The children got chicken soup for their stomachs, but we got chicken soup for our souls." The students took a cooking class to learn to prepare Cambodian specialties. And they visited some local temples, including touring the famous Angkor Wat, at sunrise.
The group also travelled to Phnom Penh (and some even tasted deep fried tarantula on the way), where they visited the National Museum, several temples and the Royal Palace. They also learned close-up about Cambodia's tragic history with trips to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields, which brought to vivid and astonishing reality the studies the students have engaged in in preparation for their trip. As Lauren Keane '12 and Adrienne Barlia '12 wrote in their blog post, "we remembered a story told to us by our Cambodian friends from the work site. They shared with us that it is the belief of all the Cambodians that those who are good will be reincarnated as butterflies after death. One thing that we all noticed beyond the tragedy at the Killing Fields, was the astonishing number of butterflies flying around the fields. When we spent time debriefing the afternoon as a group, we all noted how the butterflies brought a feeling of serenity to the otherwise gloomy scene."
Lindsay Golden '12 summed up the experience for all the students when she wrote, "Each one of us has gained so much knowledge from this trip. I believe all of us have been deeply impacted by what we have seen and the people we have met. I know none of us will ever forget this incredible experience."
Read the Cambodia trip blog