The past two weeks I have been in Cambodia. We did a lot of sightseeing and also a project with Habitat for Humanity. It has been an incredible experience. Right before my departure I was experiencing a lot of anxiety about the trip but I honestly can’t remember the last time I had so much fun and laughed so hard. This is my second time volunteering abroad and I wanted to answer some of the most asked questions and share some of the photos from the job site.
What program do you do this through?
The first time I volunteered abroad in Jamaica was with my church in high school. This most recent trip to Cambodia was a part of the ‘Alternative Break’ Program at my university. A lot of schools have these programs so if you are interested on doing service during your break I highly recommend looking into it. Check with your advisor to see if your school offers any type of short term (or long term if you want) volunteer opportunities. If your university doesn’t offer anytime of opportunity check out Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village program.
Is it expensive?
This depends greatly on who you do the program with and where you go. Going to Asia was much more expensive than going to the Caribbean. My school did offer scholarships to help some students cover the cost of the program. And while the upfront cost was a bit high, at my school it included our flights and all our meals and accommodations. I think performing service abroad is a great opportunity and well worth the cost of traveling.
Are the projects hard?
Construction in developing nations is definitely more involved than what you might be familiar with in the US. Instead of having a truck to mix cement for us we hand mixed cement throughout the day. It is physically a lot of work, but they will not give you anything you can’t do. You are building a house that someone will live in after you leave so it needs to be done right so there are plenty of people to help you through, give direction, and make corrections as needed.
What if I don’t speak the language?
Habitat did provide translators and some of the local workers we were working with spoke english. It was great to interact with the local people and learn about their lives. I made some incredible friends who I will never forget! And thanks to social media you can continue to keep in touch!
Should I volunteer abroad?
Absolutely! I think this is a great way to push yourself outside your comfort zone and experience new things. I feel that I have grown so much as a person this past week.
Overall my trip to Cambodia has been amazing. I can’t wait to go back and explore even more of South East Asia!