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Year 12 Student Reflects On Her Time In Cambodia

24 June 2015

Activities Week 2015 was a tremendous success with students from Years 7, 8, 9 and 12 undertaking activities within China and abroad. Year 12 visited Cambodia and had a fantastic time helping to build homes and dams, restoring schools and teaching students, in addition to learning more about the history and culture of the country.  Holly Walmesley from 12P has shared her experience of the trip and what it meant for her.  

  • Holly Walmesley, Year 12 student at the British International School Shanghai, during their trip to Cambodia

Holly during the trip to Cambodia

Cambodia was a great experience and definitely something I would want to do again in the future. I learnt many things throughout the journey, including how important it is to give back. I only realised this when I got back to my home in Shanghai as I got to go back to my big bed in a room with air conditioning and a fridge full of food.

I learnt from the Cambodian children of their life goals, with some wanting to grow up to be successful enough to provide food for them and their family. I also had an amazing opportunity to learn the language in Cambodia which was really useful (what I did learn) so I could communicate with the children I met in the local school and Starfish schools. This made the experience even more memorable. Lastly, I learnt how important it is to embrace other cultures, see what they believe in and what they do compared to places like England where I come from. When we met the monks, saw their water getting blessed and visited temples, it showed me how different and unique it is.

Personally, it was quite impactful to meet one of the survivors of the genocide who was at the prison we visited. He seemed so happy to be there and meet visitors to the prison. He was selling his book which told us all about his journey. What amazed me was how he could sit here every day knowing he spent the worst time of his life there with his cell still there and on a site where his prison mates were killed. For me, this showed great strength and made it all the more real. Another person who had an impact on me was a 13 year old girl at the local school at the camp who gave me the warmest welcome every time I came to the school. She made me flowers, a drawing and would call my name all the time. She had the biggest smile on her face all the time and I will remember her forever and hope to see her in the future

All the kids I met throughout the journey were so happy and bright even with the living standards they're currently in. This has motivated me to work hard for the future and hopefully make a difference in their lives and others like them.

One of the most difficult things for me was seeing the living conditions all the young children and their families were in. They had a room for their house and some living on less than $5 a day for the whole family. It made me want to help each individual person but in being able to help the overall community, it was a great achievement and something I can be proud of forever.

After everything I have seen and learnt over the past week, I want to know more about the genocide. I bought a book about a true story of a family going through it and I will definitely appreciate more what I have and how lucky I am to live the life I do.

Some more things I learnt about myself this week is that I feel I’m capable of a lot of things and that I can make a huge difference which was evident throughout the communities we visited. I hope to travel a lot more and help children and families have a better future.

The activities we did made me appreciate the things that are given to me that I haven't had to work for. Knowing that people have to undertake hard work like we did everyday just to get by and earn money for their family makes me want to work harder and cherish the things I have. I am very lucky to have such a good education that guarantees a bright future.

Overall I had an amazing experience in Cambodia now that I look back at it. I hope the children and schools we visited enjoyed having us and hope we made a difference in their lives like they did in mine.

- Holly Walmesley, 12P