Volunteer Spotlight: Alex

“I absolutely loved Siem Reap and I was lucky enough to get involved with a really sustainable and worthwhile programme”

22 year-old Alex already had some volunteering experience back home in Melbourne, Australia when he decided to take up a placement with Globalteer’s Cambodia Community project in Siem Reap. And he makes no bones about what motivates him to help underprivileged children, wherever they are, as he explained.

“There are few experiences in life more rewarding than having a positive influence on a child and their future. From a personal point of view I find that children have an incredible and seemingly innate ability to remind me of everything that's good in humanity and they never fail to bring out the best in me”.
 
With expectations clearly high, Alex arrived in Cambodia at the height of the hot season, in April 2012. This is his story.
 
“Cambodia's challenging history is obviously no secret so when I was looking for countries that truly need the help of foreign volunteers it was high on my list. As soon as I stepped out of the airport and into Siem Reap itself I was overcome with an inexplicable calmness and it was a feeling that stayed with me the entire time I was in Cambodia.
 
“My desire to do something for Cambodia was constantly rewarded throughout my time there by the extremely friendly and welcoming nature of the people and the natural beauty that the country itself offers to people who explore it”.
 
Settling in at the Globalteer guest house [Alex stayed at our previous accommodation, Globalteer House] 
“There's a fantastic rooftop area at the guesthouse, it's a bit cooler up there, lots of chairs, tables and sofas to settle into as you enjoy the wifi and the amazing view of Siem Reap sunsets.
 
“The local security guards working there are also really friendly and always love a chat, I spent a week as the only volunteer in the Globalteer guesthouse and the guys always made sure that I never felt too lonely.
 
“Getting from Globalteer house to the project was hot and sweaty business, but that's mainly because I chose to cycle everywhere I went in Siem Reap and it was the middle of dry/hot season. I still loved cycling through town and along the river each day though, getting more and more familiar with the area and getting to see the kids that lived along the route who would say hello and enthusiastically wave as you rode past in the morning”.
 
Volunteering at the children’s project
 
“I was working with the beginner classes at the project so initially I found the language barrier to be a new challenge for me but you adapt to it pretty quickly as you work out the English capabilities of the children and your own capabilities of non-verbal communication.  I always endeavor to learn a few vital parts of the local language in every country that I visit anyway because I find that it's makes your time there a lot easier and a lot more rewarding.
 
“Even before I had learnt any Khmer it was very easy to communicate with almost everyone in Siem Reap - English is very widely spoken there and a lot of locals are looking to improve their English skills and always enjoy the opportunity to speak it with foreigners. And the local teachers working at the school are excellent and happily translate anything too complicated”.
 
All good things come to an end…
 
“My feelings when I had to leave could best be described as bittersweet. My last day at the project was incredible, the kids were amazing and we spent the day having heaps of fun. Looking back I couldn't have asked for a better finish to my time there but it also made it that much harder to leave.
 
“I absolutely loved Siem Reap and I was lucky enough to get involved with a really sustainable and worthwhile programme. I'd love to come back and help out again with the school and with the development of their youth-club, and also just to hang out with some incredible kids!
 
…or do they?
 
Since writing about his experiences with Globalteer, Alex travelled on to Laos and Thailand has recently returned to Siem Reap. He currently has no plans to leave…