Global Service Scholar: Alexis Rodriguez
Country: Cambodia

It takes a village; teachers, staff, members of the community, parents, and volunteers all play a significant role in shaping and developing a child’s education. The second day we arrived in Cambodia we had an orientation on the history and culture of Cambodia and I remember learning that Cambodians are highly family orientated. It was common for mothers to have the support of their sisters, aunts, and mothers, in raising a child. During our time at Treak Community Centre, I personally saw the amount of hard work each staff member and teacher put into the development of the school and the children every single day. Each member was open to new ideas from other staff members as well as volunteers and wholeheartedly appreciated any feedback in order to continue improving.

Volunteers bring in new skills and ideas to this equation. As volunteers ourselves, we helped bring in new ideas into their curriculum, testing practices, hygiene practices and teaching. Teachers were both open and excited to incorporate any new activities and recommendations that we had into their classrooms.

One day the head teacher took us to visit the Pagoda where a community member started teaching English to children and adults. As the students outgrew the school, the school moved into a village, Treak Community Centre was officially formed. However, according to the teacher, parents were very distrustful of him and the school; they were not accustomed to their practices. Gradually trust was created between the staff, teachers, and parents. He says that the families and the school now holds a strong bond and he has a high respect for families who continuously send their children to school in order to seek improvement their children’s future.

Learning about the formation of Treak Community Centre and experiencing how everyone in the community works together to develop a school that provides children with the opportunity of a well-rounded education has made me realize how critical the involvement of the community is. As a future school counselor, I will be helping students throughout their education and providing counseling in areas of career choices as well as personal and social development. It is important for the growth and development of students that the entire community: staff, teachers, and parents have a strong sense of trust and relationship. I hope to find ways to raise parent involvement in schools, because by coming together exchanging ideas and support we will be able to enhance the wellbeing and education of students. This wonderful experience working at Treak Community Centre has added a new dimension to how I will be approaching situations I will come across as a school counselor.