|Micheal||2010||Don Bosco Technical School, Phnom Penh||Cambodia|
Describe the work you did during your placement:
In my time in Cambodia I worked closely with all the students at Don Bosco Technical School. I supported the boarder students by assisting with their studies, work and sport. I taught guitar to the students during lunchtime and organised mass every week (including the music.) In the second half of my placement I lived with the Besucco Boys, a small group of predominantly Vietnamese-Khmer students who were living at Don Bosco but studying in local primary and high schools. I was responsible for these boys. I woke them up every morning at 5:30am and got them ready for school. When they came home I helped them with their studies, work and sport. In the evening I put them to bed at around 9:30am. While these boys were at school I taught English at Don Bosco. I taught 25 hours a week, teaching every class that was there. Therefore I had about 200 students! I also attended all the retreats that the school ran at a beachside town in Kep. I ran workshops on the preventative system with some of the other volunteers and ran games and activities for all the participants.
Describe some of the best and most challenging aspects of your placement:
The best aspect of my time would have to be the people I met during my time in Cambodia. I loved eating with the community for breakfast, lunch and dinner and the vibrant conversations we had around that table every day. I loved being part of an international community. The Besucco boys (who were also a challenging aspect) were one of the best aspects. It was hard but I realised that sometimes when things are hard you connect with people at a deeper level. I loved living in such a different culture to Australia. I learned so much about what it is to be human and questioned so many of my assumptions. I found it challenging coming to terms with the reality of the situation in Cambodia. I struggled at times with my workload. I went to Cambodia with an attitude that I would do everything to help, as a result I volunteered my time to everything and almost burned out. Since returning I have found the Cagliero community such a blessing to be a part of and I find it to be such a nourishing community. I feel proud to be part of such a diverse and vibrant community.
Explain how your volunteer experience impacts your life today:
My 6 months in Cambodia has probably been one of the most influential things I have done in my life. It has been source of strength through hard times, my resilience and self-knowledge really benefited from my time in Cambodia. The year after I returned I helped initiate a lay Salesian Community called "The Rinaldi Project." Myself and 3 other male lay Salesians lived together in Brunswick for a year trying to live out our Salesianity in everyday life. Living and teaching in Cambodia strengthened my resolve to teach and when I returned to my studies I had greater enthusiasm as I understood how lucky I was to be at University. I have now graduated from University and have a real enthusiasm for mutual education opportunities between students in developing countries and Australian students. I am also very interested in Social Entrepreneurism. During my time in Cambodia I contacted Don Bosco Camp in Australia and we organised Don Bosco Phnom Penh to print 250 t-shirts for the campers. This was a success and since then we have organised t-shirts to be printed for camps, youth groups, and immersion trips. This has been a great venture as all the profits go back to Phnom Penh, but also because those doing the printing are students so they earn the money for their own school while learning a trade. A little while after returning home from Cambodia, I took 8 months to live in Europe. I lived in Paris, was part of a Christian community called Taize and helped run a 6 week camp in Germany. I then taught in England for 3 months. I feel as a result of my time in Cambodia I am more willing to take risks and really jump in the deep end. I would (and do) recommend the Cagliero Project to anyone willing to take up the challenge. There is such a need in Australia for people to challenge the status quo. There is a need in our country for people who realise that poverty does exist and that people who are the same as you and me suffer every day from things that we can help solve. We are living in a world that is growing smaller every day. We can connect with people who 50 years ago we may never have been able to connect with. The Cagliero Project will impact your life in ways you can't imagine.