CAMBODIA

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

Explore a rich culture very different from your own, and experience a society that is in the state of rebuilding. Masonry, construction, and building school infrastructure are the main service projects. Build additions to schools, teach English and lead classes for children at a summer camp. Also, visit war memorials, colorful food and art markets, and the ancient temples of Angkor Wat, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

PROGRAM DATES

June 30 to July 27 $5950

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WHAT WILL YOU ACCOMPLISH

You will work on projects that mix construction and social services, building additions to schools, upgrading school facilities, and leading classes at a vibrant summer camp, getting to know the local kids, teaching arts and crafts, playing games, and teaching basic English.

WHO WILL YOU IMPACT?

You will interact continuously with Cambodian friends, from small children to college students, teachers and farmers to engineers, shopkeepers and craftspeople. You will get to know the “Mighty Girls” soccer team and summer camp students, our neighbors and project partners.

WHERE WILL YOU EXPLORE?

Explore Angkor Wat, one of the “Wonders of the World,” visit the main attractions of Phnom Penh, ride bikes along rice paddies, enjoy a famous dance performance, learn Khmer-language basics, visit a silk farm, make rice paper with rural farmers, and stroll along the Mekong River.

WORK ON SERVICE PROJECTS THAT MATTER

Projects mix construction and social service with our partner organization, SALT Academy (Sports and Leadership Training). SALT runs youth soccer leagues throughout Cambodia, and takes a subset of exceptional teens and pre-teens in Battambang for more focused vocational training and education classes. We work with SALT’s “Mighty Girls” program to improve public soccer fields, bleachers and other infrastructure of this popular but spare local gathering place. VISIONS teen volunteers also help with SALT’s youth summer camp, getting to know the kids, teaching arts and crafts, playing games, and teaching basic English.

FEATURED PARTNER

SALT Academy runs youth soccer leagues in Cambodia and uses recreation as a foundation for teaching important life skills. SALT also provides housing and educational support to teen girls in Battambang. SALT’s work has been recognized by the UN Under-Secretary General.

CONTRIBUTE TO A COMMUNITY THAT WELCOMES YOU LIKE FAMILY

We interact continuously with Cambodian friends, from small children to college students, teachers and farmers to engineers, shopkeepers and craftspeople. You will get to know the “Mighty Girls” and summer camp students, our neighbors and project partners. We shop at local food markets and visit French-influenced cafés, learn Khmer-language basics, participate in artisan workshops, visit farms and rice paddies, and take bike rides in the countryside. You also will learn the history of Cambodia from people who lived through some of the horrors of war but now see hopeful futures for younger generations. Return home with friendships gained through shared work and fun.

OUR HOME BASE:

BATTAMBANG

The charming northern city of Battambang is renowned for delicious food, friendly people and a beautiful surrounding landscape. Battambang features charming colonial architecture and a relaxed pace. Its location makes it ideally situated for exploring traditional Cambodia.

Cambodia is one of VISIONS newest program sites, where we have lived and worked since 2012. The idea was first presented by a veteran summer director, Wesley Hedden, who was living in Cambodia as a Princeton-in-Asia Scholar. With more nonprofits per capita than any other country in the world, Cambodia was a good fit for VISIONS, and Wes introduced us to terrific partners in Battambang. This Southeast Asia destination has proven well worth the travel and tremendously popular for our adventurous youth.

We take a weekend to explore Angkor Wat, one of the “Wonders of the World,” and spend another day visiting the main attractions of Phnom Penh. The Bamboo Railroad, bike riding along rice paddies, and a famous dance performance are among other favorites while in Cambodia. We visit a silkworm farm and learn to weave strands of silk, we make rice paper with rural farmers, stroll along the Mekong River, and take in the unique offerings of Cambodia on a daily basis.

EXPLORE CAMBODIA WHILE YOU EXPERIENCE VISIONS

DAILY LIFE

A large house in one of Battambang’s central neighborhoods is where we call home during our time in Cambodia. We live together as a group, with ample space that includes a kitchen, showers and bathrooms, separate rooms for boys and girls, and beds provided for each person.

Service projects start after breakfast and end by mid-afternoon. We work five days per week, and you typically get to choose between three different worksites each day. Once a week, you will be on “homebase crew” with a few other participants and a leader. The crew helps to make meals, goes to colorful markets to buy food for the next meals, does laundry, and takes in a “day in the life of Battambang.”

After work there is time to get to know our surroundings and learn more about the culture. Whether playing games with local kids, attending a rice paper workshop, visiting local parks and outdoor markets, or simply chatting with neighbors on the patio, there are a lot of activities that fill our days. Weekends and a few other days are set aside for our exciting travel and excursions.

Meals are a blend of local cuisine and Western fare, with variety and abundance for everyone’s liking. We provide meat and vegetarian options, and healthy snacks are available through the day.

A few evenings a week, we have meetings to talk through the summer experience as a group. Other nights we’ll go to events in town, hang out as a group, or prepare for the next day’s projects.

VISIONS is not a teen tour with a day-to-day travel itinerary. Instead we settle in to our home base and are part of daily life at the program site. The itinerary provides highlights of some of our activities in Cambodia.

ITINERARY

First Day

  • Arrivals to Phnom Penh

During Trip

  • Royal Palace & Welcome Dinner
  • Killing Fields Tour & Tuol Sleng Prison
  • Drive to Battambang & Settle In
  • Bamboo Railroad
  • Angkor Wat & Siem Reap
  • Rural Bike Tour
  • Family & Neighbors Day
  • Battambang Community Goodbyes

Last Day

  • Departures from Phnom Penh

MORE DETAILS

  • The summer program begins in Phnom Penh, where leaders pick up each participant at the airport. After two days in Phnom Penh, we travel by bus to our home in Battambang.
  • Parents receive a phone call or email once their child is met by VISIONS leaders at the airport. After that, phone calls home are generally limited to once a week.
  • Teen volunteers and their leaders live in a rented home in one of Battambang’s neighborhoods. There are bathrooms, showers, and gender-separate bedrooms for students and leaders. VISIONS provides mattresses and teens bring their own sheets and pillow.
  • VISIONS has a 1 to 4 or 5 leader to student ratio, one of the best ratios among summer programs. The maximum group size is 25, and programs are gender-balanced. Most participants attend alone, and no more than two friends may attend a program together.
  • We emphasize an inclusive group dynamic. Things like age and grade become less important on a VISIONS program. We eat most meals and do most activities as a large group, and we break into small rotating groups for workdays.
  • Details such as a packing list, travel notes, and health forms are provided upon enrollment through login web pages. The process is straightforward and we are here to help. VISIONS travel agent books flights, which are not included with tuition.
  • Teen volunteers receive 85 community service hours. Youth summer camp program for ages 14 – 18.

Program Director(s):

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