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Ivanhoe Grammar School Cambodia Service Project 2023 – Day Seven Students’ Reflections

Ivanhoe Grammar School Building Toilet

To continue from  Day SIX Reflection blogging of the Ivanhoe Grammar School Cambodia Service Project 2023, this article reposting the reflections from the assigned students on their Day SEVEN experience and impressions:

Day 7, Team 2. Digging dunnies; fishing; Buddhist ceremony at local pagoda.

We started the day by heading out to a local community centre to help build a toilet for the locals, we worked in teams to excavate the hole and eventually dug a big enough hole to fit the pipe into. However, when we attempted to fit the sewarage tank into the hole, the concrete pipe fractured leaving us stuck with nothing to do except watch the locals fix the problem. Overall it was rewarding but the anticlimatic ending left us feeling somewhat disappointed with our efforts. Ultimately, the experience felt both incredibly rewarding but also frustrating as we reflected on how we were able to help but also how great the impoverished state of the country affects the friends we’ve made in our time here.

Towards the end of the day, we visited a local pagoda where we were able to participate and watch a Buddhist ceremony, visit and enter a Buddhist temple, and be involved in group prayers in which some students were able to have a go and be taught by the locals how to pray and learn more about Buddhist culture. It was an incredibly welcoming experience from the locals who were so accepting of all of us. Overall, the Buddhist ceremony was an especially amazing experience of the village trip. As an experience, it was one that was both unique and beneficial; giving all of us a deeper understanding of Buddhist culture in both Cambodia and especially this close-knit village community.

Tristan and Olivia

Team 3 Thursday Samrong Village by Abby, Tessa, and Billy

Sou sdey! Today we were given the opportunity to provide a few small differences to the community. The team split up into two groups, one assisting local builders to assemble two toilets for local families and the other group painting multiple murals around the school.

The building group- including Billy- helped with the heavy lifting of bricks, concrete powder and sand, as well as mixing the cement. Although it was a sweaty and strenuous task, it filled us with a sense of accomplishment knowing that we had made an impact on local families’ lives.

The painters, including Abby and Tessa, got to work filling in Mrs Patterson’s beautiful sketches depicting various native Australian, and Cambodian plants and wildlife. The concept of the piece was about bringing together our two countries and communities through flora and fauna. It was a messy task, with paint all over our hands, sweat all over our faces and children clinging on our legs, but we created a gorgeous and memorable art piece for the kids to admire.

Then it was time to teach the adorable children about animals, emotions, and weather. The kids love learning through song and dance, so ‘old MacDonald had a farm’, ‘the hokey pokey’ and our version of ‘we are Australian (and Cambodian)’ were fan favourites for everyone (including us). Throughout the embarrassing facial expression to explain emotions and funny animal noises, we hoped they had a great time while learning new things. Through a lot of hydrolyte and many smiling faces, the four hours had passed feeling like two minutes. A lot of pictures were taken and lots of emotions were felt while saying goodbye to our new Cambodian friends who wont be joining us tomorrow, as we depart the village until our official farewell on Wednesday. We exchanged social medias with the older students and teaching assistants, so it will be good being able to keep in touch with these lifelong friends.

After our final delicious dinner here in the village, we celebrated our fourth birthday in four days. Happy birthday Thea! After one final tom-tom (big) happy birthday song and gifts, we got taught how to make sticky rice dumpling balls with our new friends. After a lot of laughs and trying to master the skill as well as they did, they turned out tasting amaze-balls! With a nice group chat to finish off the night, its safe to say it was another wonderful day that we will never forget!

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