09 Mar, 2017
10 : 00
Can you imagine seeing the sunrise over one of the wonders of the ancient world, eating one of the world's richest sources of protein (crickets and grasshoppers and cockroaches…oh my!) and addressing one of the most pressing global issues all in one week? In a first for YCIS Chongqing, students from Year 10-13 accomplished all of this and much more during our Upper Secondary Out-of-town Trip to Siem Reap in Cambodia.
Cambodia is one of the least developed countries in the world and as a result of years of civil war and ongoing political issues it remains reliant on foreign assistance to provide for its people. Added to that, almost 50% of the population is under 18 - education remains a massive issue and priority. 51 students from YCIS Chongqing took part in a program that had sustainable service at its core as well as an emphasis on cultural and historical exploration so as to understand the context of current day Cambodia in order to consider potential roadmaps for recovery and ongoing development.
We spent our time at two schools for under-privileged students - ABC's and Rice and JB Foundation - which both provide free education in English to hundreds of Cambodian children who would otherwise be forced to work (at best) as subsistence farmers. Moreover, both these schools provide a stable job for Cambodian teachers. They appreciated our students visiting the schools and dedicating time to improving and decorating their facilities as well as interacting and engaging with Cambodian children through art, language and sport activities.
Additionally, the program allowed us to visit Angkor Wat, the ancient and majestic former capital of the Khmer empire and one of the most sacred and well-preserved Hindu and Buddhist sites in the world. Even though it meant waking up at 4am, we all appreciated the seeing the sunrise over the ancient temple.
Other highlights included visiting a floating village on the Tonle Sap Lake, attending the fantastic Phare Circus and cooking and eating traditional Cambodian delicacies at a cooking class (no bugs!).
After months of preparation, fundraising for volunteer service and researching Cambodian culture and history our students embarked on a journey that tested them physically, challenged them mentally and touched them emotionally. The students who left Chongqing on the February 27 returned to us this week with broadened perspectives and appreciation for the opportunities that they are fortunate to have.