A life-changing and changing-life experience at RIS

Hi, everyone, I’m Lulu from Shanghai, China. I’m 19 years old and study sociology.

During the six-week volunteering, I have learned a lot, developed new skills and got along well with EPs from different countries. One sentence to conclude is that this is a life-changing and changing-life experience you will never forget.

First, I would like to express my sincere thankfulness to Mr. Mora and Ms Rachna for providing us free dorm and week-day meals. They are very nice and would like to communicate with volunteers, treating you like a ‘part-time’ family member. On weekends, Mora may give you a free ‘tour guide’ and very cheap tuk-tuk. Ms Rachna, thank you for your encouragement to my cooking. It was so inspiring that you let me try whatever I want and said ‘yummy’.

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Of course, the conditions here are not as good as those in my hometown, no matter the dorm or the school. I was shocked by the bed and bathroom the first time I stepped into the dorm which is on the highest floor of the building. We only had 4 cot mattresses lying in lines and no showering but pouring cold water with ladle. You had to learn to taking care of yourself in case you got a cold. What’s more, the environment in school was also hard to say. The school has enough facilities for teaching but many was dirty. Students ate wherever and whenever they wanted, which most time dirtied the desks, chairs and the floor. They were so active that you had to use all your methods and efforts to get their attention.

Anyway, you have to fit your living style to the circumstances. It was amazing that I felt cool after everyday ‘pouring’. The long common bed gave us more chances to communicate. Because of the teaching, I changed my daily routine into a regular and healthy one. I got up early and did yoga every noon. I gave myself time to read books and think of new games that could attract students.

But the things that really touched me were Cambodian with their warm and optimistic culture that embraced me and helped me adapt. The smiles from students and teachers are sunny and inspiring. It feels like no matter what comes up, just smile and all would go through. They tolerate your mistakes, your sometimes-impatience and shouting. When I’m tired and helpless, their smiles gave me energy. Every dinner time, we sat together around the table, sharing food and stories, discussing problems and solutions. People around are so nice and kind– in fruit store, bakery, butcher’s and so on. They all took care of me.

In this atmosphere, me and all volunteers were more active and energetic to make changes. I tidied the cupboard and cleaned the room with other volunteers. I often cooked. Margaux, Pleun, Qi, Zhou and I spent the whole weekends cleaning the school and set a new rule about students cleaning on duty. Mr. Mora and Ms. Rachna all decided to make this change. They always listened carefully to our suggestions and would take into consideration.

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I also went on trips during weekends. Angkor Wat is amazing.

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This journey to me is like a dream.

Time never returns.

All these smiles are in my memory.

From LuLi

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