Global Service Scholar: Kimberly Corona
Country: Cambodia

Before the trip, I had a broad idea of the volunteer work and the Cambodian culture I would experience. I didn’t want to have any set expectations; rather I tried to understand and learn. I watched a few films and read a couple of blogs before going on the trip, but the most rewarding part was being part of the community for a month.

The high spirit and kindness at TREAK are unmatched. Working alongside the school and staff I learned from both the teachers and students. I am drawn to teaching as a future profession and seeing such an amiable environment really motivates me to pursue that career goal. However, at times I had second thoughts, and thought maybe teaching wasn’t for me. There were instances where the noise levels in the library were at an all-time high, I couldn’t even hear my own voice as I yelled. Through all the noise, students were still able to communicate and get work done. It was quite fascinating. I first associated noise to lack of productivity but it wasn’t the case here. The students were loud but motivated and interested in learning. I witnessed the gradual increase in library attendance and an increase in a few students’ confidence to pick up a more challenging book. These subtle moments in my visit were so gratifying.

In a meeting with one of the teachers, there was one thing said that captivated me: while we may find ourselves drawn to teach and help the students, we would be more helpful in the long run by helping the teachers. Because of our short time in the school, it was more efficient to share our ideas and experience with the staff so they can continue to practice and improve. This proved to be quite true. I think my contribution to the schools’ testing was something that my team and I worked hard on. The test was developed with the help of many previous volunteers from all over the world and to be trusted to put all their work together to form the tests was such an honor. As the head teacher looked through the tests we put together, his face lit up with a smile. That small moment was fulfilling because I knew how much it meant to him and the school.

Overall my experience in Cambodia was beautiful. The scenery was more green than I expected and most of all the people I worked with were such an inspiration. I hope to look for passion and happiness in life as they do. I hope next summer I can plan a similar volunteer experience to accumulate a variety of teaching pedagogies.