Do you wake up every day with an open heart, spend each minute to its fullest, and sleep with no regrets?
Because that exactly what it means to live. The three adventurous weeks in Battambang, Cambodia made me realize what truly makes me happy and I now appreciate every single second of my life. No matter what I went through, I knew what mattered most to be through the beautiful people I met along this journey.
Being assigned as a STORMer, little did I know that it was not only about being an educator to the students in class. It was about being there for every child, to motivate and encourage them, to bond and share our stories. In the morning we were teachers yet when the sun goes down we were all friends. It’s never easy for one to open up to a stranger, and a language barrier doesn’t make anything easier. But as they say, “Smiles are a universal language.”
Time passed by and we allowed our hearts to open up. From the awkward smiles when our eyes first met, followed by some Khmer language. The day started from “Susdai”(hi) and “sok sabai tei”(how are you) and the day ended it with “riektray susdai”(good night). I’m glad that I’d actually made the first move and challenged myself in every possible way. By this, I was able to explore the side I have never let out and the people there truly brought the best out of me. For instance, I never was comfortable enough when I was surrounded by girls due to the fact that I grew up with guys around me. Being on my own without my two brothers looking out for me was completely out of my comfort zone, but I knew somewhere in my heart that this was not going to limit me from anything. Emily, Er Yen, Kai Chen, thank you for being there with me when I was on the quest of overcoming my fears. Staying with different people proved my capability; that I was always a free bird seeking for an adventure in the first place.
All of this experiences are something I would never trade for anything in the whole wide world. The trip shaped me into a stronger person that is able to take risks and confront upcoming challenges no matter small or big, without fear. It was terribly difficult to leave a place where I felt I was myself and where I belonged, blessed by the most amazing people.
“I don’t want to send you back, because I don’t want you to leave”
” Pray for Cambodia”
“When are you coming back?”
“I love you”
These words from my students and friends represent what I have left behind, it was the impact that I made. On the other side, looking further than overcoming several challenges, I left Cambodia with a question unanswered, “Why did you come so far to Cambodia instead of your own country?” Perhaps it because volunteering has no boundaries. Cambodia chose me. Internationals or local, as long as you’ve helped and enjoyed the journey, it can be anywhere. If you have the power to make someone happy, why not share it? All I want to do is give. That’s me, that’s what I live for. This shall not be the end of my volunteering journey however to end this blog, “You have never really lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. Volunteers are not paid because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.”
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