Tuesday 18 July 2023

Cambodia 2023 Service Project

During the Term 2 school holidays, the largest-ever expedition of students and staff spent 15 days on the 2023 Cambodia Service Project. The Cambodia Service Project has a proud twenty-year history, providing a unique cultural and service-learning opportunity. From 10 staff and students in 2004, the project has grown to 130, comprising 112 students and 18 staff on the 2023 trip.

‘The School first travelled to Cambodia in 2004 with a party of eight staff and students. The then School Principal Rod Fraser initiated the service project to encourage an outward-looking approach and develop greater international understanding,’ said Teacher in Charge – Cambodia Service Project, David Gibbs.

The service program provides students with the opportunity to learn the skills and ethical practices that enable global citizenship to become a reality in their lives. For over 20 years, relationships have been made with Cambodian partners enabling students to have rich learning opportunities and experiences.  Since 2007, the School has worked with local aid and community organisations to complete building projects and fundraising initiatives. Students work with communities in Phnom Penh and the Peak Sneng village in the Siem Reap region, primarily focusing on several schools.

The 2023 trip started in Phnom Penh with a four-day introduction to teaching, history, and culture of a busy Asian city. Students and staff then went to Siem Reap for the five-day village immersion, followed by further cultural learning around the sights of Siem Reap and Angkor Wat.

In the lead-up to the 2023 trip, students raised over $70,000 to fund different projects at schools throughout Phnom Penh and Siem Riep. At Neak Krawan Primary School students got to see firsthand how their fundraising went towards renovating three classrooms and new boarding accommodation. Principal Gerard Foley had the honour of officially opening buildings donated by our students at Char Kraom Primary School. A highlight of the trip was the Village Cup organised with the NGO Happy Football Cambodia that Ivanhoe hosted. Ivanhoe students joined children from the Siem Reap region to play a friendly football tournament.

‘The program continues to grow with families and staff gaining an appetite for service and cultural understanding. Our program is unique, having developed relationships with our Cambodia partners over this time, with their help and the expertise of staff, can design our own trips, providing opportunities, sights and unique experiences for our students that will last a lifetime,’ Teacher in Charge – Cambodia Service Project, David Gibbs.

This extraordinary learning experience captivates our students and is often described by them as a transformative journey that shapes their lives. Ivanhoe students, Ale and Sachi reflected on a day spent teaching in Cambodia.

‘We started the day off bright and early to go teach again at the local school. The ambient faces of the children, as we walked through the doors, were overwhelming, something that none of us could ever have prepared for. Every single one of those kids’ faces was lit up with a beaming smile the minute we walked through the gates of their school. Their enthusiasm left us all just speechless,’ said Ale and Sachi.

The 2023 service trip exceeded everyone’s expectations and the School looks forward to further strengthening the ties with our Cambodian partners and providing our young people of character with unique global learning opportunities as part of our Global Citizenship initiative.