Sunday, January 25, 2015

Only Education Can Empower People

By Khoeurn Khart

Early in the morning when I come to work, kids are playing in JWOC’s yard and running around with their friends. Some of our students talk about their homework and families while the others share stories about things that happened in their state school.  The value of education for people in our community and the surrounding areas where JWOC works is immeasurable and helps so many. JWOC provides a positive learning environment where people can share ideas, ask questions and grow. What inspires me about JWOC is our student diversity.  I have met students from big families, some that are living in migrant villages, some that are farmers, small business owners or staff at the hotels. Our diverse student body is always growing and evolving.

At JWOC, students come to learn together and develop new friendships. They feel more comfortable and are cared when they arrive to JWOC. Since JWOC classes are only one or two hours long, our students use their free time to study either in the afternoon or the evening at JWOC both on weekdays or weekends. Apart from learning English, computer and sewing skills, some parents allow their kids to play in the library, sing, and listen to story on Sundays. It is a special day that kids learn how to cut, paint, stick and create new things with fun activities.

Our students are very friendly, and when they see me, they try to communicate in English. The skills they gained at JWOC help them change their living condition, and I am happy to hear this from them. They are able to work for hotels, restaurants, guesthouses or other NGOs. I see that things around our community have changed gradually. Kids like learning and trying new things compared to my time growing up.

From the knowledge I have gained while attending university to my work at JWOC, there is no doubt that education has shaped who I am today. Education impacts so many areas of my daily life, and it is for this reason that I feel very excited about the work I do at JWOC. Through my experiences, I learn that only education can empower people.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

10 Years of Journeys Within

To celebrate 10 years of Journeys Within Tour Company, Andrea Ross talks about an incredible journey. A journey that not only changed her life but has changed the lives of thousands of members of our community.  

The truth is that our 10 year anniversary was last year…but we were busy and I just couldn’t quite get around to celebrating it, I think it was because deep down I wanted to wait and really complete 10 years! It wasn’t okay to say we’d gotten to the 10th year, in typical Journeys Within fashion we had to go above and beyond and excel in that 10th year too!! To highlight just that, in the last week I’ve received emails from guests describing their recent trips as “epic”, “once-in-a-lifetime” and “life-changing”. Our tenth year was truly the icing on our anniversary cake!

When Brandon and I started Journeys Within Tour Company 10/11 years ago in Cambodia neither of us realized where it would go and the lives it would change. When I talk about exceptional experiences I’m not just talking about our guests…I’m talking about the Journeys Within team as well. I feel so lucky to have a team that truly loves what they do and I think we are able to really appreciate how exceptional Southeast Asia is. Because we truly value it we’re able to create these experiences for guests that just go above the norm and create unforgettable trips. On a personal level, the last 10 years has been an exceptional experience for me!

When I realized that I shouldn’t just let our anniversary fade into the Angkor Wat sunset I looked online to see what people did for their 10-year-anniversary. Turns out, people have parties…they throw big events and they have a very good time. I thought about doing this, as I do like a good party, but my team is spread across 6 countries and getting them all together seemed unlikely. I will be taking the kids to Southeast Asia in February and in each country I’ll celebrate with my Journeys Within Family, but I needed something bigger, something that defined Journeys Within. I didn’t have to look far.

Shortly after founding Journeys Within Tour Company we founded Journeys Within Our Community (JWOC), a non-profit that has a mission of empowering local communities through health and education and inspiring change. When we founded JWOC we again had no idea of the impact it would have. Today JWOC has given access to clean water to thousands of villagers, we’ve provided education for hundreds of students at our school in Siem Reap, we’ve given out microloans to those living below the poverty line and we’ve sent over 200 students to university. And when I say JWOC has done this, I mean WE have done this — it turns out that the most exceptional experiences are not necessarily helicopter rides and private pampering (though those are great too!), but actually the experiences you take home with you are the ones where you make a difference in someone else’s life. When our guests saw the needs in the countries they were visiting they wanted to make a difference and they have! Our donors are the travelers — people that not only want to see and understand these countries, but also make a positive impact on the people living here. The idea of Active Philanthropy through travel has made measurable impacts in the communities that we work in. Our teams both at Journeys Within Tour Company and at JWOC have made these contributions count, every penny of them! In return our guests have not only seen the highlights of Southeast Asia, but they’ve made a difference in the lives of the local people that inspire us to travel. The experience has gone beyond Angkor Wat and Wat Phou and the Grand Palace, and into the villages and communities.

This to me is what the last 10 years has been about. Making travel bigger than just going somewhere new. So to celebrate 10 years of exceptional experiences Journeys Within is donating $10,000 dollars to JWOC. This donation will go towards the projects we founded and believe in and will help JWOC continue to change lives. This donation adds onto the thousands of dollars given throughout the course of the year by our guests who visit our schools and see our projects, as well as the donations that come in from our amazing travelers after they come home and want to continue making a difference!

I am so proud that what we founded 10 years ago has become something so powerful. I am so thankful to have a team that strives to give our guests the best experience possible every single day and I’m so excited to see what will happen in the next 10 years. On the phone today, I was speaking with a guest about his trip and he couldn’t say enough nice things, finally he said, “for a small company with so much heart, you really have the service to back it up.” And that, well that was all I needed.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

My time at JWOC

My name is Voleak Phan and I am 15 years old. I’m a sophomore at an international school calls Jay Pritzker Academy (JPA). I decided to volunteer at JWOC during the winter break because I felt as though I wanted to do something for my community and to get some work experience as well so that I’m more prepared for my future. Also, at first I thought that it would be a boring break to just stay at home, so why not do something useful?

Therefore, I met with my friends and we organized a team to work at JWOC, which was recommended to me by my Psychology teacher Ms. Chantal Debreu. We have had such a good time at JWOC. I went to classes in the afternoon from Monday to Friday to assist the teacher as well as preparing fun activities so the kids can play during studying periods. In addition, on Saturday and Sunday I helped the art class to make crafts for the kids as well as teaching them to make the crafts. I can say that I feel an overwhelming pleasure because I’m a part of it. I love spending my time with those bright children, who are eager to learn and friendly. Additionally, the other staffs are very nice and helpful to me, which made me feel so warm. In addition, I also learn how to teach children, preparing lesson plans, get comfortable with students and talking to them, and some craft-making skills that I had never know how to do before.

I feel good about my decision because for once, I actually did something for my beloved country; I learned things that can be applied in real life. Even though it wasn’t much, I know that this is just the start. There are going to be many more things that I will do to help my country.

Last of all with gratitude, I would like to say thank you to the founders of JWOC and the donators as well as helpers, who without their presence, underprivileged Cambodian children won’t get the precious opportunity to see the world at a different angle. Thank you so much.


Blogger news