2019 Youthlinc Real Life Refugee Scholarship Winners Youthlinc is pleased to announce a new…
We have been busy and happy in Cambodia. When we first arrived, we visited the genocide museums in Phnom Pehn– S21 and the Killing Fields. It was truly horrific what happened in Cambodia just years ago. Alex Allen said, “Seeing the photos of the faces of the prisoners left a huge impact on me. We hear about genocide and stuff in school but it didn’t become real until I realized they were actual people just like me.” What struck team member Allison Elliason the most was at the Killing Fields — seeing what is now recognized as the Killing Tree, where they beat babies against the tree to kill them. She said, learning about the terrible things that went on during the Khmer Rouge was an eye opener and I was able to picture the awful things that went on there.”
Assistant Team Leader Carter Woolf said, “having been to the killing fields before, I thought I would be able to handle the sadness a little bit more than the previous time, but I realized that I wasn’t prepared. I became so angry that anybody would kill so many innocent people. I love this culture and I love the people of Cambodia more than anything.”
After we arrived to Pursat and started meeting the Cambodians we would work with, Parker Winchester commented “meeting the kids for the first time was honestly one of the best experiences I have ever had. I will never forget how I felt when I found my little buddies and they put a flower crown on my head. I learned that a smile is universal and these kids make us smile.” Grace Mortensen talked about her experience: “It was amazing to see how quickly the Cambodians have bounced back from the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge. The Cambodians are truly so forgiving.”
Jessica Nichols had a similar experience: “I felt so loved and grateful when we were with the kids in the village of Chomony. One of the cute kids walked me into the library Youthlinc built last year. When she noticed I was sweating badly, she walked to the water jug and filled her own cup and gave it to me to drink (I didn’t though). I felt like the kids put me first before themselves.”
Alicia Tripp was especially excited to return to Cambodia to see her buddy from last year. When she didn’t immediately see him, she became pretty sad. But all the sudden, the boy saw her and gave her a huge hug. The boy had kept a picture and letter that Alicia gave him last year. He showed her the photo of the two of them together. Alicia didn’t realize until she saw him how much of an impact she made on him until then.
One of the team’s Mentors, Holly Chavez wrote, “Going to the school made me realize that education is viewed differently here than in the United States. Kids in the U.S often complain about attending school, but today it was so nice to see all of the kids so enthralled with learning. They wanted to show us everything they knew.”
All in all, the experiences here have been beautiful. Stay tuned for more about our experiences in Cambodia!