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Thursday, July 24, 2008

West Point Cadets Volunteer AIAD experience in Siem Reap - Sung-Yong David Kim

JWOC has provided me the opportunity to not only travel to Cambodia, but to help others in need. The experience has been both exciting and eye-opening. Everyday I would learn something new about the people or the culture of Cambodia. I came to Cambodia not knowing anything about the people or their history, but after the missions set out before me by JWOC, I was able to interact with the people and learn so much more than I expected.

Some of the missions I participated in was surveying young "recycle" children and to raise an interest in a free education program for these children. I spent the afternoons aiding local university students in teaching English at a local school. It was amazing to see how the students were always eager to learn more, even the university volunteers. To them English is a necessary tool for success as the need for English speaking Cambodians are never-ending. The best mission yet was to live and immerse myself amongst a squatter village. I spent 2 days with a host family, and spent the mornings and evenings surveying the village looking for ways to improve the living conditions and lifestyle of these people. It was definitely a challenge as I was not used to sleeping and living in such poor conditions. However, through that experience, I felt a stronger urge to help the people as most of them work from dawn till dusk yet they only make a total of 3-4 dollars a day. Their meals are very meager and the children play in sewage. One cannot help but feel sorry for the people. Yet, the people live their lives with such perseverance that they were inspiring.

However, JWOC also made arrangements for me to view the breathtaking temples and learn the history of Cambodia through very knowledgeable guides. The accommodations at the Bed and Breakfast was a little unexpected as it is very modern and in no ways uncomfortable. I was able to try the Khmer food and visit the local markets. My travel in Cambodia was at no point dull as there was always something to do and something new to experience.

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