Cambodia is known for its rich buddhism cultures, and people here study buddhism, and live by Buddhism with much reverence. In Buddhism, obstacles are considered opportunities in life to advance your understanding of life and embrace your spirituality. Buddha once said, It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell. Since the beginning of my six-week journey, I have encountered some obstacles through work and life in Cambodia, but I have been glad and grateful for this experience of growth and maturity.
In my work here, I feel quite lucky, because even though language is a main barrier, my partners, Melanie and Sebastian, and I have managed to establish a close communication platform on Facebook messenger with our supervisor, Pao. Pao is always dedicated and passionate; he has experimented with lots of forms of democratic advocacy like trainings, debates, and international meetings among the youth, but he is also willing to give us freedom to navigate through proposals and debate designs. Because our NGO is not equipped with sufficient staff with the ability to operate computers or design websites, and our old web page is not efficient in terms of information presentation, I volunteered to pick up the task of web design. With little to no experience in web design and layout, I started from the scratch with many researches on Google and Youtube. I came in Cambodia with an expectation of understanding international politics and social works, but the adventurous side of me has always encouraged to learn and explore by taking risks and resolving obstacles in work. Now, the new website has been created at www.yedp.online.com, and the experience of web design and maintenance led me to consider a minor in EECS in my future academic life in Michigan.
In my life here, I also learn to be more careful and aware from some crazy moments. For example, when seven of us, volunteers, were taking the tuk tuk to a restaurant in the evening, my friend’s iPhone was snitched away by a motorbike drive in the traffic. We have always enjoyed the privileges of safety on our campuses and in our countries, and we have always considered the story of robbery in Cambodia as an anecdote until this moment. One of a sudden, I realize that wherever we are, we always have to protect ourselves with a sense of alertness to take care of ourselves and our properties. Having fun does not equate being careless under any circumstance. This is a shade of grey in my recollection of life in Cambodia, but it is the one time when we have to pay certain prices for obstacles in order to grow up.
There are two weeks left in my journey of NGO internship in Cambodia, and to meet friends from all over the world and work for something that could change the community in the future, I will definitely treasure moments of obstacles and resolutions.