American Global Explorers Join Service Learning in Cambodia
This 12-day itinerary of travel in four places in Cambodia visits schools, NGO’s and local communities to learn about Khmer culture, traditional values and participation of American Kent Denver School students in some service learning projects.
Institution: Kent Denver School, Denver, United States
Education: Junior high school
Group: 10 students and 2 supervisors
Purpose of Visit: The trip was for leisure and to learn more about the culture of Southeast Asia such as traditional music and dance
Travel Dates: 24 June to 5 July 2014
Travel Route: Siem Reap – Phnom Penh – Kep – Chi Phat
This was the first trip to Asia for these students. They were very excited about experiencing new things and loved to learn about Khmer culture. In Siem Reap, they helped fix bicycles for little kids. They were very cute and helpful with the little Cambodian children. In Kep, building the latrine was harder work than they had ever done. They learned how to work in the hot sun and learn to be more patient.
This group of students were from 15 to 17 years old and liked to act funny, make others laugh by doing all sorts of witty things. In Phnom Penh for example, when they were doing aerobic activities at the riverside, there were three boys who dressed like girls. Many people were watching us and taking photos and videos while the students were dancing.
The tour ran very smoothly because we had good support from the schools, NGOs and communities. Some of the students had more difficulty adjusting to the local food and could not eat what we arranged for them. We changed to western food sometimes to meet their needs.
Students visited the following projects:
Students were taken on a tour around the school to see and interact with the local students.
Tonle Sap Community
Our group was introduced to the Tonle Sap community by means of a boat trip on the lake and enjoying a picnic lunch at the community restaurant.
New Hope Organization
At this charity in Siem Reap, the American students visited the nearby school and, together with local students, repaired broken bicycles.
Equitable Cambodia (EC)
With this organization, we visited their non-formal school run by Bridges Across Borders. The students also worked hard in helping villagers build a latrine toilet.
Chi Phat Community
Leisure time at the Chi Phat community consisted of kayaking and playing games with the students of a local school. Our group also did some painting and grass clearing whilst there.
Summary of the travel itinerary:
Day 1 | Siem Reap
The students arrived in Siem Reap from Denver late in the evening.
Because of the long journey to Cambodia, this first day in Asia we took it slowly with a visit to Artisans d’Angkor’s silk studio and a cooking class for lunch.
Day 3 | Siem Reap: Tonle Sap
In the early morning the group undertook a trip to Tonle Sap Lake. We stopped at Mechrey and Prek Toal floating villages and visited New Hope Cambodia to help repairing bicycles.
Day 4 | Siem Reap
Our morning was set-aside for visits to Ta Prohm and Angkor Wat. In the afternoon, students visited Bayon Temple by tuk tuks and we ended the day by an impressive performance at the Phare Ponleu Selpak Circus.
Day 5 | Siem Reap – Phnom Penh
We drove to Phnom Penh where in the late afternoon, our group joined an aerobics session with local Cambodians along the Mekong River.
Day 6 | Phnom Penh
This morning we traveled to Phnom Tamao a little outside of Phnom Penh so that the group could learn about the activities of the Wildlife Rescue Center. In the afternoon they toured the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda.
Day 7 | Phnom Penh
Students learned about Cambodian history with a morning visit to the killing fields of Choeng Ek and Tuoul Sleng Prison. In the afternoon we had a visit to the Apsara Arts Association.
Day 8 | Phnom Penh – Kep
In about 4-5 hours the student group reached Kep on the Gulf of Thailand. Here we took a short boat ride to spend the afternoon at the quiet beaches of Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay).
Day 9 | Kep
Charity organization Equitable Cambodia (formerly Bridges Across Borders) is located in Kep. The students helped building a latrine toilet for the community.
Day 10 | Kep – Chi Phat
From Kep we drove to Koh Kong province and took a boat to the CBET of Chi Phat. We took an easy walk around town to get acquainted with the village and its people.
Day 11 | Chi Phat
Today the students went kayaking around Southon. We called on the local school to speak English with the students and played some games together. The group did their closing ceremony at Chi Phat’s CBET commune.
Day 12 | Chi Phat – Phnom Penh – departure
It was the last day of this group and in the late evening their departure flight left. On the way back to Phnom Penh we visited a local market, enjoyed lunch at Tonle Bassac and for those who needed a rest or shower there were rooms reserved at a downtown hotel.