For my second informational interview required by my ALA 225 summer internship course, I decided to interview Raju, Holistic Missions Director at Anglican Diocese of Singapore, and Consultant at Partnerships for Peace Organization. He was born in India, but he has spent eleven years in Cambodia committing to researching on religious/conflict reconciliation and promoting peacemaking efforts between NGOs. For our NGO, Youth Education for Development and Peace, he is a long-time friend of my supervisor, Pao, and also a special financial and logistical advisor to our organization.
Quite interestingly, his career path was diversified from a full time priest to working on peacemaking in Cambodia. Talking about why he would like to extend his career vision from church to Cambodian communities, he told me, in a lighthearted way but with a serious connotation, that he has been driven by his faith and belief, and at this stage of life, he is confident that he can make more impact on people around him by doing the faith and following his instincts.
We then moved on to qualifications he is seeking in interns’ resumes. He is determined that he focuses on two things, first, the concentration of study, in this case, peacebuilding or conflict management; second, passion and experience, in this case, skills manifested in interns’ past jobs or activities. He insisted that I stay longer next time in internship dealing with foreign countries and cultures, and apparently 6 weeks is far from his ideals. For instance, he has had interns from all over the world, who would stay in Cambodia for at least one year. Raju has faith in a mentorship strategy, in which he would pair international volunteers with local staff so that legacy would achieved when the capacity and skill building for Cambodian staff are sustained for the future development. He did compliment on my 6-week effort on website and proposals, but he added that what Cambodia needs right now is to be mentored for skills needed for a tough fight in economics, politics, and wounds from history.
Similar to Pao, Raju did recognize that political influence and flawed financial management in Cambodia may hinder NGOs from reaching to the provinces in need, but he has been positive about the future of democracy in Cambodia because 64% of residents in Cambodia are under the age of 30, and the transition to democracy has been naturally conducted by the young population throughout the elections.
One belief brought up by Raju is rather inspirational, in Cambodia, we need to replace the culture of fear, power, and violence with culture of justice. Moreover, it is impossible to impact thousands of people with the power of one, and we need to form a team of individuals who will reach out to impact ten or twenty people around them, and that will eventually add up to tons.
We also talked about preparing for an internship, for instance, he would like me to watch closely the movie Killing Field, and the research Warrior Heritage, because the career of public service is all about learning about communities and individuals, sadness and happiness, memories and expectations deeply rooted in a nation. We did agree to keep in touch through emails, and he also encouraged me to commit my gap year after graduation to Cambodia with him for a close look into the work of democracy and peacebuilding.