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Samrong Children’s Orphanage, Cambodia

Elizabeth Mundy

Elizabeth Mundy is a junior majoring in International Relations & Diplomacy, with a minor in Economics. She is a member of the university honors program. This last summer she spent time volunteering at the Samrong Children’s Orphanage in Cambodia.

"I did not exactly ease myself into international travel. I always pictured my first time abroad as a short, enlightening vacation with family or friends. So when I ended up leaving the U.S. for the first time on a three-month trip to live on a sustainable farm in Southeast Asia with 70 orphans, even I was surprised.

I was the first volunteer to live at Children’s Orphanage Samrong, located just outside Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It was here that I taught daily English classes to children ranging from 9 to 20 years old. I played with the children at all hours, worked on the farm, and learned how to harvest rice.

My internship was with an organization called EGBOK Mission. EGBOK Mission is an international nonprofit empowering young adults with the educational and vocational training needed to support themselves as hospitality professionals. I served as the spokesperson between EGBOK Mission and the orphanage. With the help of staff members from both ends, we were able to begin the hospitality program at Samrong for 22 advanced students. I taught bi-weekly hospitality classes, educating the students about hotels, restaurants, and tourism. They attended cooking classes, went on hotel tours, and traveled throughout cities learning about their own country’s history. In the coming months, the students will apply to vocational schools and prepare for universities. Each of their achievements means that they are one step closer to finding successful jobs as young adults.

I was astounded by the students' progress over the summer. The students naturally embody the essential characteristics of hospitality: compassion, kindness, and humility. Furthermore, they found ways to continue their studies outside of the classroom- asking me questions during meals, creating detailed binders of notes, and helping each other with tricky concepts. It is their dedication that has encouraged me to pursue a thesis on the hospitality industry within developing countries. At the very least, it is a way that I can acknowledge their amazing growth as students and future professionals in the hospitality industry."