Hi everyone! My name is Johnny, and I am currently starting my 6-week internship as a volunteer with a local NGO in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I was born in China located in East Asia, but this is actually my first time to visit Southeast Asia. Arriving at the Phnom Penh Airport at 11PM, I am embracing the humidity and high temperature in the Cambodian uber, “tuk tuk”, in the tropical zone, and preparing myself mentally for all the challenges and cultural shock along with excitement.
My internship in Phnom Penh is to work with Youth Education for Development and Peace non-governmental organization. The main goal of my internship will be to establish a modern platform to promote our team projects to prospect participants and donors. We will draw our knowledge from Cambodian news and social media, global news, and essentially, Youth Strategy proposed by our supervisor. At the same time, we will also be overseeing events like academic debates or education workshop.
I do think that my internship/volunteer job in Cambodia is unique because there will be so many expected and unexpected obstacles including languages, cultures, knowledge about Cambodia, and, essentially to me, NGO management and field research. Moreover, NGOs in Cambodia are often newly established. This leads to my first goal in my internship, as I encourage myself to be proactive in my responsibilities. I am ready to enhance my research skills, team management, and knowledge about NGO functions through this most hands-on experience in the Cambodian NGO. Since NGOs in Cambodia is mostly unorganized and underdeveloped, and English language hinders Cambodian activism from reaching out to funding around the world, the biggest challenges for me will be how to research based on the political, economic and social climates in the Cambodian society and how to apply my knowledge in statistics, political science and economics in my day-to-day NGO work. During the election season of prime minister in Cambodia, we do hope to focus on the platform of education and make our audience more aware of the connection between education and politics.
I do envision myself growing more confident and dependable after this experience because my second goal of the internship is to develop genuine connections with the NGO co-workers and the local community. By learning Cambodian culture and history, I will learn to be more sensitive and personable in interacting with people I will work for. By picking up a little bit of Cambodian language, I will seek out to humbly communicate with and learn from the local. Furthermore, I am looking forward to building friendship with my volunteer peers with different interests from all over the world. Building connections is all about sharing your experiences and reflections with people around you, which will manifest my passion and dedication in work.
Lastly, I am planning to make some side trips during the weekend because I am very excite about the foreign beauty of nature and buddhism in Cambodia. As the Chinese saying goes: “It is better to travel ten thousand miles than to read ten thousand books.” I will learn from the Cambodian community from day to day, and make this working-abroad experience memorable and worthy. I hope to help other while exploring more about myself and fulfilling independence.