I did not plan to do any volunteering abroad in my university life but somehow I just clicked on the project after I read through what’s the project is all about. I did not even consult with my parents beforehand and they only knew about it literally one week before the date I was supposed to fly to Cambodia because I was scared that they wouldn’t let me go. Since I’d already bought my flight ticket and finished preparing all of the important documentations, they couldn’t really stop me from going. But thankfully they were really supportive when they found out. I was pretty excited for it despite my parents’ worries since it will be my first time in my 20 years to travel abroad and all by myself.
I chose Cambodia as my first stepping stone just to ensure my parents that it’s near to Malaysia and also because I have been always fascinated over historical places and Angkor Wat was one of them.
Although I was quite nervous to be in a completely different country where I didn’t speak the language but the people in Cambodia are very friendly and I was helped by the AIESECers over there. The project that I had chosen was to teach communication skills in English to kids from different ages in a private school. It was exhausting but at the same time very fun because the kids have very limited knowledge in English so I have to always adjust on my teaching style for every classes and the teachers were also very helpful to translate whatever words that they did not understand. The fun part was the game session where the kids were very competitive and never shy to answer although they were not sure of the answer. I definitely learnt more than what I actually expected.
I met a lot of people from different background and it was an eye-opener. Although in Malaysia we have different races but the mentality is quite the same. However, people from China, Japan and other Europe countries have different mentality which made it interesting to learn. Such as their cultures, politics, education system in different countries and etc. It was definitely more fun compared to just learning them from the Internet.
Though I was helped throughout my project, there ought to be some challenges. I almost gave up halfway through my experience but I kept my optimism with me and managed to handle them which definitely taught me to be more solution-oriented. People had asked me before if I ever regretted my decision to volunteer abroad, my answer will always be a no. We can always read and listen to other people stories and experiences but once you experience it yourself, everything is worth it.
I can’t wait for more adventures in the future!
Original story from Ong Vienna Lee (Student l Universiti Malaysia Pahang)
In AIESEC, we believe in developing leadership through practical experiences in challenging environment, and we do this by delivering cross-cultural exchanges. We have created thousands of stories ever since we started in Malaysia 50 years ago. Here’s just one of them.