Global Service Scholar: Nicolas Gutierrez III
Country: Cambodia

For the people of Cambodia, there is little to nothing they cannot achieve when they set their minds to it. If they need a house, they will build it; if they need money to support themselves or their families, they will work hard to earn it; if they want to learn English, they will learn it.

The most prominent lesson I learned during this experience is that where there’s a will, there’s a way. One might need help from others or need to work harder than others, but anything is achievable for the Khmer people. For example, a challenge for the students is to get to the Treak Community Centre from distant parts of the village. Not all students can be dropped off by their parents; yet the students managed to find a way to make it to school. I witnessed the older students giving rides to multiple other students on their bicycles, as well as a Treak teacher who not only dedicates her day to educating students but also manages to bring 4 students on her small motorbike. Treak staff, parents, and others in the village are a community that would and will do anything in their power to ensure the young minds of their village are getting the proper education they deserve. In the Treak village, it truly takes a village to raise a child.

I was inspired and learned from both the students and teachers alike. The students at Treak could simply go to state school for half of the day and be done; instead; they find a way to go to school and dedicate the second half of their day to learning a second language. The teachers at Treak could simply learn English and work elsewhere; instead, they push themselves to work at Treak, educate the students, and ensure they are truly creating opportunities for others. I saw that the teachers learned just as much from their students as the teachers taught them.

Prior to this experience, I saw my time in college as a time to gain as much knowledge as I could, but I simply saw this knowledge as one that would benefit me and my future. My experiences and interactions with those at Treak made me realize I should not only try my best to learn as much as possible for myself but also share this knowledge just as much in order to help others find a way and achieve their goals.