Kathryn ‘Kathy’ Dover first volunteered with Globalteer in early 2019 on the recommendation of a friend. Her friend, a former volunteer, advised her that Globalteer aligned well with her passion for traveling whilst giving back to the community. A retired magistrate, Kathy’s passion for people is deep-rooted. And the draw of volunteering soon got her!
From Uncertainty to Confidence
Kathy spent two weeks in Cambodia during her first trip. Initially, she was a bit unsure of how the children would take to her, especially considering the langue barrier. Despite this, Kathy gave it a go and was delighted at the response. Whilst leading a game in English, she watched children’s faces light up as they gleefully participated. “Despite my lack of Khmer, they were all so happy and interactive participating”. “It was a buzz” she recalls.
That ‘buzz’ is what drew her back, later the same year, this time for 4 weeks. “My trips get longer each time”. This time, Kathy was more confident with her classroom skills and knew her way around Siem Reap. Not long after completing this trip, Covid-19 took the world by surprise. Undiscouraged, Kathy was determined to return to Cambodia as soon as possible. In January 2022, after several flight cancellations, she returned to Siem Reap becoming our first post-covid volunteer.
Connecting Through Arts
Enamored, students and staff alike were celebrated her return. The students were excited to be able to practice their English with Kathy and Kathy was excited to practice her Khmer with everyone. That’s right, she even took up language lessons to strengthen her connections with the community. Her passion and dedication shine as she does crafts and English lessons with the students. She has even organised some of the students to perform a play: Alice in Wonderland! The students are now practicing their lines so that their well-prepared to perform when Kathy returns later this year.
Advice for New Volunteers
When asked what tips she would give to those planning a trip to Siem Reap, she advises seeking accommodation that isn’t located near temples (due to the noise of chanting). Renting a flat rather than a hotel can often be more affordable and provide more of home comforts. Additionally, learning a few words in Khmer can be very useful for getting around and making connections.
Only Young People Volunteer
“Please tell me when I get too old for this”, Kathy says lightheartedly. Although we don’t ask her age, Kathy shows no signs of slowing down. Not only does she plan to continue volunteering, she hopes to inspire other retirees to come volunteer with us. Many people think of volunteers as being young, university students and worry they will not fit in. To this Kathy says, “Ignore your reservations and try it, I guarantee you’ll be back again. You’ll find you surprise yourself.”
We are so thankful to have the continued support of Kathy and others like her. If you are considering making a trip to Siem Reap but are worried about your age, take Kathy’s advice: