Cambodia, Summer 2014
Having an opportunity to serve the Cambodian Child’s Dream Organization (CCDO) in Siem Reap was my honor and an enjoyable experience. Going back to the place where I was born, serving my own people, being in a country that helped me become who I am now are all goals I wished for and a reality that has been fulfilled. I left Cambodia around ten years ago for the United States, and spending my summer in Cambodia, especially in Siem Reap, I noticed many changes in terms of the environment. There is now more traffic, more automobiles, and more buildings. However, there is one thing that I did not see changed; this is the way people look at education for their children.
Education in Cambodia, especially in many poor villages like in Siem Reap, is an issue because parents cannot think about the long term effects on their children’s future. Instead of encouraging their children to go to school, they see their children as a consumable product to bring in more income and help the family financially in the short term. Many village kids start working since the ages of 6 or 7 years old doing laborious task such as working in a rice field, a farm, as a construction worker, etc. This is a huge issue that we have to take action against as soon as possible. As many NGOs like the Cambodian Child’s Dream Organization take bigger steps to contribute, they help many families who lack the ability to understand the long term effect of the decisions they make for their children. I see the work that CCDO does and it has left a great impact on poor families. Furthermore, it creates more job opportunities in Cambodia, brings awareness of the citizens’ owns talents to pursue a more academic track, and to understand the basic skills they need that will help them bring success in their future.
As the Program Coordinator, my responsibilities were to close the communication gap between Khmer teachers and CCDO staff, as well as observing and evaluating the needs of both teachers and students. Encouraging both students and parents to see the rich value of education as well as assisting English teachers, I believe, I did my best to contribute to not only this program, but also to the solution of this academic deficiency.
The time that I spent in Cambodia assisting my own people introduced me to another level of the difficulties of living in poverty that I would never have imagined. With the unforgotten history of the Khmer Rouge, the pain still remain, and many things still need to be fixed, such as education system, life styles, etc. We need to step up and help people who are still in a deep struggle.