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Saturday, July 03, 2010

Michael Tollerton - West Point Cadets


Almost every year The United States Military Academy sends a handful of cadets to Journeys Within Our Community (JWOC) to help conduct humanitarian efforts in Cambodia and Laos. The students sent to JWOC in 2010 were given three particular group tasks such as leading self defense classes, Clean Water project, and a microfinance project. In order to complete our tasks, JWOC assigned translators for each person. The translators were the scholarship students at JWOC who study at University and would benefit from the situation and in turn teach us. Working with translators was a whole new experience for me and I can definitely say I learned a lot more than I thought when I began. The great thing is that working with the scholarship students as translators is very applicable for my future profession as a 2nd LT in the army. Not only did I learn a lot of Khmer words but I also worked with male and female translators from an entirely different background and culture. The language barrier made it challenging but informative. Sometimes I needed to speak slower and pronounce more clearly but sometimes there was still a language barrier. At times I would write things down and then they could understand, which was interesting and wonderful because I have the same problems the students do when learning a new language. I loved learning from them and spending time with them. When we weren’t interviewing and conducting the tasks I ask him questions about Cambodia and his life while he asked me about the United States and my experience as a student. My eyes were open to a whole new language, culture, and people and I got to learn through translators and spending time with the people.



JWOC has made this traveling a new experience for me personally because it has combined leisure and volunteering. I have only traveled for pleasure before and with JWOC volunteering in Cambodia and Laos has been enjoyable and fulfilling. I would highly recommend volunteering with JWOC to everyone interested in traveling to Cambodia or Laos.

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