Our world is an incredible place but it is in dire need of people who can constructively drive change. This program has been created to educate individuals looking to learn more about ethical and sustainable volunteering and for those looking to gain employment in the sector.
It is designed to expose students to a range of service types (environmental, educational and community) and introduce theory relating to sustainability, ethical service-learning, international development practices and leadership in the Service Education context. You’ll love Cambodia and meet some inspirational organisations helping so many.
People come on this program for a number of reasons - some to get a foot in the door to the Service Learning Industry and others to learn how to assess and choose organisations to volunteer for, organisations that they know are making a real difference. Other people simply join our program to experience an authentic travel experience with real purpose and appreciate the carefully considered service-learning modules with community groups we have experience with.
Cambodia as a destination just gets under your skin and into your heart in a way that no other country does. In fact, we feel that the region can’t be beaten for the sheer diversity of cultures, histories and landscapes in a geographically small area. It also has a complicated history with much poverty, so is a fascinating place for us to study Service Learning. We can’t wait to share it with you.
Arrive in Phnom Penh. On arrival you will be met by your Pacific Discovery instructor. You’ll then drive to Angtasom for a rural homestay with a wonderful Cambodian family who work in education, social enterprise and community development.
We have five full days here, where you’ll visit a nearby high school, local markets and the homestay family’s pagoda. You’ll also learn about rice production and Cambodian cooking, complete a half-day workshop learning about social enterprise where we make soap, and each evening you’ll help teaching at a free English language school that the family run for local high school students.
We travel to Kampot province. We settle in to our relaxing riverside guesthouse then head downriver to explore Epic Arts, an organization working with disabled Cambodians. Epic Arts is a NGO (not-for-profit non-governmental organisation) working with the disabled to promote integration of people of all abilities using the arts as a form of expression, empowerment, education and employment. This is vital in a country where an estimated 1 in 250 people have some form of disability, and no government services provide support. We will also participate in a movement workshop with the Epic Arts crew.
The following days will be spent with another local NGO who are integrated with a poor, marginalised community. We will undergo repairs of the garden center and kitchen which all who live within the community utilize. This will be a challenging and rewarding project and over five days the group will be able to re-construct these vital community structures.
When not involved in the project, we will go paddle boarding in the mangroves of the Kampot River, take a visit to Rabbit Island in the neighboring province, explore the Art of Leadership and delve more into the Service Learning syllabus.
Time to head back to the country’s capital Phnom Penh. Once at the heart of the Khmer Empire, the city sits at the junction of the Mekong and Tonlé Sap rivers. You’ll visit the somber Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum to learn about the Cambodian genocide under the Khmer Rouge in the 1970’s. You’ll dine at Mith Samlanh’s Friends Restaurant, a NGO that offers vocational training and support for some of Phnom Penh’s 20,000 street kids.
ART OF LEADERSHIP WORKSHOP
While in Phnom Penh you’ll spend a whole day learning about what it takes to be a great leader. Explore what your strengths are, where you can improve and how you are impacting the people around you.
ELEPHANT VALLEY SANCTUARY- MONDULKIRI PROVINCE
Next is a visit to the Mondulkiri Project - a Livelihood Initiative Environment (ELIE) and ecotourism program. You’ll trek into the elephant’s natural jungle habitat; There is no riding, no tricks, no shows & no stress. You’ll spend hours walking with them in this 1500 hectare retreat; learning about elephant welfare, their amazing stories and local indigenous culture. You will love seeing these animals being respected as they should be, as well as learning more about animal conservation. This special sanctuary is the ideal place for us to delve further into our Service Learning syllabus
Back in Phnom Penh, it’s time for some sightseeing! You’ll visit the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda, the fascinating Russian Market and Daughters NGO that provides support and vocational training for women and men who have been rescued from trafficking.
The rest of the week will be spent learning more about social entrepreneurship and what it takes to run NGO’s in foreign countries. You will visit three different organizations:
PACT : Pact’s newest project in Cambodia, WE Act, launched in 2018 and supports young women entrepreneurs to reach their full potential. Back in Phnom Penh, it’s time for some sightseeing! You’ll visit the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda, the fascinating Russian Market and Daughters NGO that provides support and vocational training for women and men who have been rescued from trafficking.
FRIEND’S INTERNATIONAL : The original Friends project, Mith Samlanh, which means ‘Friends’ in Khmer (all programs use a local language version of ‘Friends’ in their name) became a local NGO in 1999. Mith Samlanh went on to expand in terms of programs and partnerships in the following years, developing social business and child protection elements to ensure comprehensive and creative solutions and services for all the marginalized youth and communities they successfully work with today.
IMPACT HUB: Impact Hub is the largest community for entrepreneurs, creatives and techies in the heart of Phnom Penh. They enable entrepreneurs to achieve success through dynamic programs, incubators and mentoring, as well as inspiring and engaging the local community with weekly events and online learning platforms.
It’s now time to take the five hour journey to Siem Reap, gateway to the Angkor temples. We’ll take the time to explore Siem Reap, whilst also meeting and watching a performance from the Phare Circus. Phare Ponlu Selpak is a Cambodian community development organisation, that was started in refugee camps in the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge and is focused on healing through the arts. We are sure you will find their circus performances are moving and spirited (note there are no animals in this circus, just human talent).
ART OF LEADERSHIP WORKSHOP
Continue developing your art of leadership during this daytime retreat followed by a free evening in Siem Reap
THE ANGKOR TEMPLES
From vibrant Siem Reap we explore the impressive remnants of the Angkor Empire, renowned for their superb temples and monuments. They are a UNESCO World Heritage site, the largest temple ruins on earth, and truly awe inspiring. See the restoration of some temples, and the disintegration of others, as the jungle reclaims them. There is nowhere else like this place, with so much detail in rock carvings, engravings and the sheer scale of the 162 hectare site is a mind blowing and fascinating glimpse into the glory and power of the Khmer Empire.
COOKING CLASS WITH LOCAL CHEF
Indulge in a half day cooking class with a local Khmer chef. Originally this cooking school started by accepting and employing 25 local orphans who showed an interest in cooking and were enthusiastic and eager to learn further culinary skills, focus on personal development and were keen to get involved in the project. Incredibly, almost two decades on, what started at 25 orphans is now 98. All of these children are financially and mentally supported to go to school and they have a safe place to stay and call home. The cooking school and sales of local products that they sell on site is used to fund the project. It is truly inspiring to hear this example of how one person really can make a difference.
Your time on the Service Learning Leadership Program has covered a vast range of subject areas and you will have experienced various different service types first hand. We believe you will leave with a whole range of brand new and improved leadership skills, with unshakeable confidence to apply these to a myriad of future endeavours.
You’ll feel excited, inspired and ready to effectively drive change in the world! On your last day you’ll enjoy a final dinner in town with your new friends to celebrate your accomplishments and for completing the Service Learning Leadership Program, and plot what exciting adventures you plan to do next!
The program is open to high school graduates, university students and graduates, ideally 18-34 years. This program is challenging and rewarding and participants need to be interested in engaging with local people,learning about the service-learning industry, genuine care for others, pursuing new experiences and pushing personal boundaries. You don’t need to have had previous experience with travel or any of the activities offered, but it is important you have a ‘can do’ positive attitude. You need to be committed to, and prepared for, some physical work whilst on the service-learning components of the program ie. tree planting, gardening, trail-building; and challenging physical activity whilst diving, trekking and surfing.
The program is a shared group experience. We expect you to join the program with an open mind and a willingness to work together with your group mates to make the program an amazing experience for the whole group. Additionally, the program will be as much about the inner journey of personal growth and learning about yourself as it is about what you will experience in the outer physical journey. We expect you to be open to learning and challenging your ideas and assumptions.
Our accommodation will vary from welcoming homestays, lodges and camping with shared facilities, to hotels and guesthouses with private bathrooms. Laundry and WiFi will be available frequently, except while at our service learning projects, trekking trips and community stays. Accommodation is diverse, comfortable and carefully chosen to fit our needs.
Meals are fresh, tasty, healthy and varied. Special dietary requirements and vegetarians are catered for. All meals are included in the program cost.
Visas are not required for most nationalities.