” I wanted to be part of something bigger. This trip for me was to experience, explore and learn about my culture and history through working with the kids. I’ve been so detached from the Khmer culture for so long now and I wanted to get back somehow. I hoped working with the kids would bring me a sense of fulfillment and awareness that will give me perspective.
My initial reaction was “Wow, we’re not in America anymore”. When we first visited the Street Children School, I was feeling all sorts of emotions. That day weighed heavy on my heart and still does. The poverty that surrounds the school, the kids were all around us, and the suffocating heat inside the school was a lot to take in. I think the whole time I was feeling very overwhelmed. I know if it wasn’t for the YMCA project, the children would have nowhere to go and that really made me feel grateful that such an organization exists.
I learned that there are so many young, passionate and wonderful people out there that truly care. It was an honor to meet such great people. I see hope and change in these young leaders. The kids had endured such hardships but they were still in such good spirits. Vichaka in particular will always be in my heart. He is such a soft spoken, polite and sweet kid. I was sad to leave him.
I have been telling my story to friends, co-workers and family. I hope they will be inspired and take it upon themselves to help. I heard that Ruad or another participant might work a longer internship there next summer. I think that would be a great idea and I would like to help in any way I can. I will not take anything for grated. Going on the trip gave me perspective that I hope will stay with me for the rest of my life. ”
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