From Dec. 16–21, 2017, 19 UNICEF members traveled to Cambodia with their advisors Cindy Presse, Aquatics coach, and Patrick Young, high school English teacher. This annual tradition of visiting Cambodia has been continuing for 14 years at SIS, and members assert that these trips have always brought them unforgettable memories.
“It was my first time going to the UNICEF Cambodia trip as a new advisor of the club,” said Mr. Young. “I had only heard about the annual trip, but going there myself was different altogether. Directly experiencing and interacting with the people there left me a lasting impression. I learned how significant our group’s visit to Cambodia is, especially to the children at the schools there. I could sense that they really looked forward to meeting us every year and appreciated our help.”
Throughout the trip, the members of the club visited Tteok Thla Primary School and Koh Chivean Secondary School. Upon arriving, the UNICEF members handed out supplies: pencil cases filled with stationery and clothes given as donations. Not only did they distribute essential materials, but also SIS students enthusiastically engaged in numerous activities, ranging from teaching the Cambodian children English to singing songs with them.
“What really amazed me was that the students from Koh Chivean Secondary School were willing to show up on school on Sunday to meet us,” said Mr. Young. “These students had to ride boats to get to school because they lived in floating villages. Amongst the various memories, what I will keep with me forever is the moment when we were leaving the school. The Cambodian students waited in their boats for us to leave first, smiling and waving at us, even though they were tired after a long day in the classrooms. I will remember the final exchanges of farewell between the Cambodian and SIS students while they were looking at one another from separate boats.”
On the last day of the trip, the members enjoyed a tour of Angkor Wat, a temple complex in Cambodia known for being the largest religious monument globally. Besides exploring this monument, the members visited the homes and wells that the SIS UNICEF club had helped build in the previous years with the funds raised from weekly food sales. The houses that UNICEF had funded were relatively more sturdy and cleaner in comparison to the other dwellings in the neighborhood. Moreover, the wells provided the people in the community an easier access to uncontaminated water.
“The most memorable moment for me was when we visited the homes and wells that had been funded by SIS UNICEF in the past,” said Katie Lee (11). “Throughout this trip, I made countless precious memories, but above all, it was amazing to see how our club had been a great help to the people there. People now had safe shelters and clean water to drink. I was able to see that the club’s efforts within the school to raise money with donut and coffee sales had really paid off.”