Highlights of the trip:
To be honest, every single thing I did was a highlight and meant equally as much to me. The whole experience I had in Cambodia is a blessing! If I had to pick out some most significant memories and skills I acquired, it would have to be my new Cambodian high school friends and learning to do brickwork. Although I signed up for the construction project placement, I did take on a bit of teaching for an evening class because the original teacher got in a motorbike accident and I volunteered to take over in the meantime. It was due to this unexpected opportunity that I got to meet several of the local high school students, who are now friends I cherish. On the other hand, I did, as expected, learn construction skills. I had never worked with cement, trench-building, or brickwork before. But with the help of the construction coordinator and the other volunteers, we were able to accomplish a long drainage trench that would prevent puddling in the new school area.
Comments on the team, food and accommodation:
The team, food and accommodation all contributed to making this volunteering experience in Cambodia unforgettable. The coordinators and staff at the project site were extremely friendly and easy-going. Not only were they flexible with our various requests, they were also very organized in helping us arrange transportation during the weekends, and providing us any other things/assistance we needed. They made us feel comfortable by acting as our friends and often contributed to our conversations, bringing smiles to our faces and warmth to our hearts. Moreover, the food was both nutritious and abundant. We always had fruit and enough rice, vegetables and other dishes for everyone. They were able to provide both regular and vegetarian/vegan items based on the requirements of the volunteers. Finally, the accommodation itself was decent. The rooms were large enough for 3-4 people and the beds were comfortable. Most importantly, the owner of the accommodation is extremely friendly. Although he could not speak English, he always cared for us in his way, and showed us incredible hospitality.
Any improvements to help us be better:
I really enjoyed the program and could think of few things that need improvement. The one thing was that I did not know that we could leave the program site during the weekends and come back on Sunday evening. Many of the other volunteers left to spend the weekend in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, and other places, which allowed them to combine volunteer work with spare time/sight-seeing. I think it would be good if the welcome pack could include a few sentences about this, and that the local coordinators helped to arrange the transportation/taxis, so that future volunteers could make better plans for their stay in Cambodia.