A student from Singapore serves porridge to Cambodian people
(Posted by CAAI News Media)
KOMPONG CHAM, Cambodia (UCAN) -- An exchange program which saw Singaporeans teaching English to Cambodian youths and feeding poor children at dumpsites was an eye-opener for all, say organizers and participants.
Sixteen students from Hwa Chong Institution, an independent school in Singapore, were in Kompong Cham Nov. 19-29 for a program organized by the institution, the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) of Singapore and the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Cambodia.
The boys and girls, aged 16-19, stayed at a Church-run students' center. During the program, they played games with the 18 resident boys at the center, taught English to them and children in a government primary school, and fed children living at dumpsites.
They also decorated the classrooms and library of the government school, and painted pictures on the walls of a child-care center run by the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Only a few of the visitors were Christian.
Father Gerald Vogin, vicar general of Kompong Cham apostolic prefecture, said the visitors "showed us how they can help other people with their own hands and with their own money."
The Paris Foreign Missions priest also said it was a good opportunity for a cultural exchange -- it was a chance to motivate young Cambodians to learn foreign languages, and for the young Singaporeans to see how the lifestyle in Cambodia contrasts with that of their developed island-nation.
Sok Heang, 20, a resident at the students' center, said he was very happy to meet the Singaporeans, practice his English, and exchange ideas and experiences. He said he now feels more motivated to learn foreign languages so that he can communicate with people around the world.
Singaporean students painting pictures at the child-care center
The students' center provides accommodation to boys aged 15-22 years who study in public high schools.
Seventeen-year-old Singaporean Ning Yu said his team's visit to Cambodia was an eye-opening experience for all. He added that they resolved to continue doing social work back home by caring for elderly people and assisting the less fortunate.
The trip helped the students "to be thankful that their parents provide well for them," said Teo Ming Ern, one of three teachers who accompanied the Singaporean youngsters. "Here, they can see many children who don't have an education and live in poor conditions."
He expressed hope that his students will now think twice about what they spend money on, as well as learn to relate with people of different cultures and backgrounds.
This is the fourth year that Hwa Chong Institution has organized such a program for its students. This year, besides Kompong Cham, another group of Hwa Chong students went to Siem Reap on a similar program.