STEP My First Journey to Cambodia By Parin Charoenchanaporn

The story begins with CCIVS (Coordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service) would like to strengthen IVS (International Voluntary Services) organizations globally with trainings and practice in each region (Asia, Europe, Africa, America). Then STEPs Project has been created. It is a global initiative to empower youth organizations and to valorize the impact of volunteering.

The training in Asia is taken place in Kampot, Cambodia on 10-15 August 2017. This is how my journey to Cambodia gets started. Each organization has to sent 2 participants – I have one colleague accompany me. The flight from Bangkok to Phnom Penh takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes. When we are landed in Phnom Penh, it is a very small airport compare to ours. When we go out, surprisingly, there are many international franchised food providers like Costa Coffee and Burger King. Everything here is coded in USD so no need to bother to exchange money at the airport (it is a mistake that I made).

We have pick up arrange for our group (all participants are arrived on the same day from South Korea, Hong Kong, India and Thailand). When everyone is here, we travel by van to CYA learning center (Cambodia Youth Action) where training will happen. The road trip takes about 2 hours from Airport. We arrived to CYA learning center at 8 p.m., surrounding is dark. There are many one story building of library, computer room, kitchen and common space. Where we will stay for 5 nights is 2 minutes walk from the center in the dark. We stay in local house; similar to Thai house. There is nothing much to see on the first night.

First morning is begins with alarm from roosters. I have discovered that we are in middle of the field where no building can be found. Only at 7:30 a.m., the sun shining is very strong that you can get burn down (or just only me?). Since we have to walk to the training, I tell myself that I will be there before getting burned. The training is held in common space. It is the place where we will also have coffee break, afternoon nap, music and dance at night.

The training is last for 4 days from 8:30 to 17:30 with 2 hours break for lunch as the heat is too strong to continue earlier. During the training, they have introduced the Pentagon Model that the success of organization will combine with 5 aspects (structure, functioning, communication, finance and relationship). From this model it helps to analyze the strong parts of our organization and improvement area. We go through each part with theory and a lot of activities. The day goes by fast and slow, but knowledge is definitely increasing. Moreover, we can get to know our international partners better. Normally, we might only meet through email, but now we live together in one house. After the training, it is not the end of the project. We still have to conduct local training in our country, arrange interview with people who involves with IVS, and analyze the data and so on. Our work will never end; we will continue to do good deed for others.

On the last day, I have a chance to see surrounding on the journey back to Phnom Penh (during the daylight). From what I see, this country reminds me of Thailand in my childhood. It is good memory of all.