The excitement is building as we draw closer to the 2018 Cambodia Service Trip which leaves next week on Wednesday 20 June and runs till Friday 6 July. Students and staff are busily planning for the trip, organising events, coordinating fundraising activities, and for the first timers, dreaming of what this life-changing service trip will entail.
Some members of the group are veterans who have made the trip to Cambodia a number of times whilst others will be nervously anticipating the journey, full of second-hand stories and brimming with information. As part of the My Cambodia series we now hear from Teacher, David Gibbs, Year 11 student, Alice Chernishoff and Year 10 student, Matthew Tregambe.
How did you get involved with this Cambodia Service Trip?
David Gibbs: Actually a last minute call up to replace a sick staff member.
Alice Chernishoff: Last year I participated in the Urban Camp with the Brotherhood of St Lawrence which involved working with homeless people, refugees, people with disabilities and others who are less fortunate. I learnt a lot from this experience. The opportunity then arose to take part in a Service Trip to Cambodia. This gives me another chance to help people in a community environment with a group of peers.
Matthew Tregambe: I have always been interested in the Cambodia Service Project since Year 7 and over the past few years I have heard such great feedback from the trip. Last year my sister did the Cambodia Service trip and she loved it. Her enjoyment showed me how fun and engaging the trip is, which really made me even more interested in being involved. I love the thought of being a part of a community service project and helping out people in need, and the Cambodia Service Trip is a perfect way to do that.
What fundraising activities have you been involved with?
Alice Chernishoff: As my main fundraising activity, I held a Food Festival from "4 corners of the world" at my house. I cooked four different dishes, one from Spain, Russia, South America and China. I invited friends from school and outside of school and this event resulted in a really good turnout. As well as this Food festival, I baked brownies and cookies at bake sale on a Friday at school. I also set up a GoFundMe Page for family friends and relatives to contribute a donation.
Matthew Tregambe: Recently, I ran a pizza, soft drink and ice cream lunch to raise money for Cambodia with a friend. Our fundraiser was very successful raising over $900. I can’t wait to see what the funds buy for the kids in Cambodia. I also have helped with a Krispy Kreme lunch fundraiser, which was also very successful.
What is your role on this trip?
David Gibbs: My role this year has been the communications coordinator. Ensuring all the preparation for briefings, lesson preparation, fundraising and information gets out to staff, students and parents.
What do you think will be the most challenging aspect of this trip?
David Gibbs: As a staff member it is a 24/7 role from when you arrive in Phnom Pen until you leave Siem Reap. Whilst the students are an impressive group they need to be supervised, managed and especially fed. It is physically demanding with the heat and humidity a constant.
Alice Chernishoff: I think the most challenging aspect of the Service Trip will be adapting to and seeing first-hand the conditions in which other people live. It is something that most people know about and aware about but people refuse to take action and do something to improve these conditions for others. I know it will be a shock at first to see the ways in which the Cambodian people live their daily lives and something that will be confronting however, I am keen to do all I can to engage with these people and help them to help themselves. This is the main purpose for our visit to Cambodia and we hope to achieve this goal through the Service Trip.
Matthew Tregambe: I have been to Asia many times before, but I have been told that seeing the poverty and struggles the people have to face can be very confronting. Adapting to the conditions in the villages will also be a challenge, especially the heat which will be a contrast to the winter in Melbourne.
What do you think the most rewarding aspect of this trip will be?
David Gibbs: From a staff and student point of view you come away from this trip with so many rewarding experiences mostly centred on the relationship building. The communities that we work with are incredibly poor but bring so much happiness to our students and our efforts fundraising become very real when you see its impact.
Alice Chernishoff: I think the most rewarding aspect of the trip will be seeing the projects we have worked hard to complete and seeing the long-term effects these new projects will have on the lives of the children we work with will be highly rewarding. Another aspect that will be rewarding is the connections that we will be able to make with people from a completely different culture. Above all, I believe the most rewarding aspect of the trip will be to see the ways in which we have helped the people we have worked with to help themselves in the future and the ways in which we will have helped them to adjust their lifestyles to contribute slowly step by step to walking out of the current state of poverty in which they are living in.
Matthew Tregambe: The most rewarding part of the trip will definitely be interacting with the school kids and teaching them English. I have heard from many people that they are so inviting and caring and I look forward to being part of that. I loved seeing the smiles on their faces in my sister’s photos.