CAS Week 2018

Renaissance College

Category: Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Day 7 : 25/11/2017

The last day of our CAS trip was amazing, it was one of the most relaxing and fruitful day of the entire tour in Cambodia. We woke up early as usual and had breakfast in the hotel, which was not of desirable quality, but was still enough to kickstart the day. The first thing we did today was take the bus to the killing fields museum. Just like yesterday, it was an audio tour around a historical site, but in another location that also preserves a major part of the Khmer Rouge’s history. We walked around the execution grounds and observed different parts of the killing field. There were weapon sheds, mass graves and other facilities that were kept in shape in the museum. The mass graves were protected by rainproof sheds and some of them were a large concave underground, used to house many of the dead bodies from the genocide. There was also a large temple containing 17 layers of bones and leftovers from the executions that acted as evidence for the Khmer Rogue. The skulls and skeletons were taken to be inspected with forensic science to determine the mode of deaths to figure out how the torture and killings were carried out, and also what type of people were subjected to death, including their origin, nationality and age in respect. It was truly a moving and depressing experience to learn about the executions and the mass killings that resulted from getting Pil Pot regime. We paid our respect for those who where subjected to torture and execution through this horrible time period after our audio tour around the historical site. We ended with a video that documented some of the scenarios and pictures from the execution period.

After this, we went back to the hotel to pack our luggages. We then took the bus to a BBQ restaurant, where we had our last taste of Cambodian crusine, which seemed similar to all south-east Asian meals, but were distinct in flavour and the minor details which we deeply felt through all the local meals from this trip. We celebrated Mr. Mak’s birthday with a birthday cake provided by the tour package in advance.

After lunch, we went to the Russian market and bought goods to sell in the college fair. We had 200 USD to spend. The most memorable moment was bargaining with the shop owners, lowering the prices as much as possible to maximise the profit. We considered and bought a wide range of different souvenirs and gifts, including wallets pencil cases, bowls, bags and elephant pants. We tried to aim for the more traditional type of gifts that people would buy at the school fair. All the profit we earn from selling these goods will go towards Starfish foundation and Camp international in Cambodia. Our objective is to help contribute and improve the living conditions and expand opportunities that students and the next generation of Cambodians will encounter after multiple encounters with the local villages and communities that face troubles with the basic physiological needs for living.

After shopping, we got on the bus which drove us to Phnom Penh international airport. After checking in, we got some free time to wonder around the airport. At 7:00 pm, the plane finally took off, it is finally time to say goodbye!

For these past 7 days, it was truly a meaningful, and eye opening experience for all 16 of us. From challenging farming work to visiting different temples to tasting Cambodian cuisines and experiencing the Cambodian culture, we grew physically and mentally. We would like to thank Mr. Mak and Ms. So for supporting and taking care of us throughout this entire trip. If it weren’t for them, the trip wouldn’t have been this successful.

By Ethan and Isaac

Day 6 24/11/17

Today was our sixth day of CAS trip. We were suppose to arrive starfish international school of Cambodia, but we were 30min late because we went to the wrong school. We felt guilty for the students there because they were genuinely enthusiastic to meet us. When we arrived to the actual school, we visited a nearby village. From what we saw in the village, we learned about the wealth gap in Cambodia as the village is placed in a supposedly wealthier place compared to other geographic locations in Cambodia. We saw that the graves were taking up lots of spaces, and watching the children climbing on them like the cemetery was their playground was depressing to watch. There are around 6 people per family in the village, and their homes are as small or even smaller than an average one person bedroom in Hong Kong. Seeing the children giggling and jumping giddily around when they saw our faces made us feel genuinely happy.

When we returned to Starfish, the children ran up to and embraced us, asking us “what’s your name?” “What’s your favourite color?” etc. They were very enthusiastic and passionate about learning as we were teaching them simple games such as pictionary, drawing and ABCs. Playing with the children was probably the most memorable part of the trip. We made a connection with the children even though it was for 1 hour, we had to make our sad farewells and left with smiles on our faces.

We went to eat a Cambodian buffet for lunch, and were surprised with the wide variety of food as we were used to the food served in the camp. We realised the large wealth gap of how wealthier people dress and live from just the geographic location of the country.

Next, we went to the genocide museum S-21. Listening to the tour audio and exploring the fields took us on an emotional ride, learning about the location that was once a secondary school turned into a drastic and tragic setting of torture and murder of the many Cambodians who wanted to live a normal life. We learned so much about one of the most devastating events in the history of Cambodia and payed our respects before we left the venue.

We ended the night eating our last dinner of the trip and celebrating Samantha’s birthday by surprising her with a birthday cake. 🎂🎂🎂

By Anson and Yee Loong

Day 5: 23/11/17

Today, it was the fifth day of our CAS trip. We had a soft start this morning as we are packing up and leaving the camp after three days of hard work and dedication. Then, we travelled for seven hours from the camp to Phnom Penh. For lunch, we stopped at a resting area where we ordered fire ant for lunch. It was fabulous, and most of us stepped out of our comfort zone after this meal. After lunch, we continue our journey to Phnom Penh. Unfortunately, When we reach our destination at Phnom Penh, we have to say goodbye to our beloved tour guide throughout the trip: Vibol. It was very emotional at that moment.

After we checked in, everybody hurried to the toilet, as most of us had not have our number 2 during the stay at camp. We then travelled to the Royal palace of Cambodia, where we learned the history of the Khmer empire and the traditions of the Royal family. We were very lucky to have the chance to meet and converse with

three local monks. They taught us about their Ten Precepts. Some of their Precepts include not eating between noon and sunrise, and not killing any living animal. They are supported by the masses of Buddhist followers whom donate food and funds. The monks also told us that Buddhism is one of the largest religions in Cambodia, next to Hinduism. Interestingly, the King is a strictly religious man, the next King is elected by the Parliament, since the King is not allowed to commit any acts of adultery, therefore he has no child.

Before dinner, we went to the nearby night market to look for product to sell at the college fair. Although we did not buy any product at the end, most of us has gotten a delicious coconut ice-cream.

To end the day, everybody took some time to reflect on the things we did for the past few days, such as: ups and downs, what we learn during the stay at the camp, and on which occasions that we stepped out of our comfort zone.

By Enoch and Yardley

Day 4: 22/11/2017

Today was our forth day of our CAS trip, we woke up at 6 in the morning and got ready for our exciting day. We had breakfast with traditional Cambodian dishes! After that, we were on our way to the first activity of the day. We made a large clay jar from scratch. First, we had to mix sand with cement to make clay. This was a unique experience for all of us because we did not expect to be using our feet. Secondly, after the clay was thoroughly mixed, we carefully built a large pot shaped structure using the different molds. We ended the activity by carving the names of the students and our school on the pot as a sign of all our hard work. Although we were exhausted, we knew that we had to persevere and couldn’t give up because there are many people in Cambodia who have to do things like this everyday of their lives. After making the jar, we returned to the camp and had a little break. After having a refreshing lunch, we were separated into 2 different groups with each group changing activity from the previous day.

For group A, we continued the work that group B started yesterday. We took concrete tiles out of the mould and used them to build a pathway at the local Cambodian school. While doing this, we also had to collect rocks, sand, and water to create more concrete and make more tiles. It was vigorous work in intense heat, but we knew that we were working to benefit the school environment for the local Cambodian children. This activity really gave us a different perspective that we have to consider. Even though the facilities in the school weren’t of the highest quality, the children were always happy and their passion was inspiring.

For group B, we went to a small school that was only a couple minutes of walk away from our camp. We assisted the teacher there and taught the students simple English such as tenses and prepositions. Although these students were only 9-11 years old and are relatively poor in Cambodia, they spoke really great English and were very delightful and energetic, we had a lot of fun teaching them! We learnt that English is a very important to local Cambodian kids and we got to know more about the teacher on what he thinks about the Cambodian educational system and why he became a teacher.

We concluded the day with creative activities which included making bracelets and painting a wooden board to give to the camp in memory of our trip!

By Yacine and Jason

Day 4: 22/11/2017

Today was our forth day of our CAS trip, we woke up at 6 in the morning and got ready for our exciting day. We had breakfast with traditional Cambodian dishes! After that, we were on our way to the first activity of the day. We made a large clay jar from scratch. First, we had to mix sand with cement to make clay. This was a unique experience for all of us because we did not expect to be using our feet. Secondly, after the clay was thoroughly mixed, we carefully built a large pot shaped structure using the different molds. We ended the activity by carving the names of the students and our school on the pot as a sign of all our hard work. Although we were exhausted, we knew that we had to persevere and couldn’t give up because there are many people in Cambodia who have to do things like this everyday of their lives. After making the jar, we returned to the camp and had a little break. After having a refreshing lunch, we were separated into 2 different groups with each group changing activity from the previous day.

For group A, we continued the work that group B started yesterday. We took concrete tiles out of the mould and used them to build a pathway at the local Cambodian school. While doing this, we also had to collect rocks, sand, and water to create more concrete and make more tiles. It was vigorous work in intense heat, but we knew that we were working to benefit the school environment for the local Cambodian children. This activity really gave us a different perspective that we have to consider. Even though the facilities in the school weren’t of the highest quality, the children were always happy and their passion was inspiring.

For group B, we went to a small school that was only a couple minutes of walk away from our camp. We assisted the teacher there and taught the students simple English such as tenses and prepositions. Although these students were only 9-11 years old and are relatively poor in Cambodia, they spoke really great English and were very delightful and energetic, we had a lot of fun teaching them! We learnt that English is a very important to local Cambodian kids and we got to know more about the teacher on what he thinks about the Cambodian educational system and why he became a teacher.

We concluded the day with creative activities which included making bracelets and painting a wooden board to give to the camp in memory of our trip!

By Yacine and Jason

Day 3: 21/11/2017

Today was our third day of our CAS trip! We were energised in the morning as we were woken up by the nature. After having a nice simple breakfast that we made by ourselves, we helped the village by flattening soil for them to build new facility for primary school. Some of us were digging, and some of us were transporting the soil. Throughout the two hours of working, we were exhausted. We realised how fortunate we are as the people here have to do this every single day!

Next, we learned the basics of the Cambodian language including the numbers of 1-100 and elements of simple conversations.

We then separated into two groups – Group A and Group B.

For group A, we went to a school just a couple minutes walk away, and we helped teach them simple English like the days of the week, months of the year, animals of each letter, pronouns, and we played a word game with them where there are random words written on the board and the class is split into 2 teams; boys and girls. For every round, a person from each team gets chosen and stands in front of the board with their backs facing. The teacher or one of the volunteers shouts out one of the words in the board, and the person who is able to find the word gets rewarded with a point. This made the students their extremely joyful and full of energy. This definitely made us delightful as we saw their smiles and happiness even when living in such poor conditions with very limited amount of opportunities.

For group B, we helped make cement and created a pathway for the children. Some of us were mixing cement, some of us were taking the dried cement out of the mold, and others were flattening the ground for the lay down the concrete on the ground. We then visited the different classrooms to see how the locals study. The children learning in the classroom were very bright and were incredibly passionate. They invited us to sit with them and they were full of energy. They would clap every time a classmate answered a question correctly, the positivity filled the classroom. Seeing them happily running around during their break time and their genuine smiles were uplifting.

We ended the night with a nice dinner and learning about the history of Khmer.

By Angel and Jimmy

Day 2 20/11/17

Today was our second day of our CAS week, we woke up early at 4:00am to watch the sunset in Angkor Wat!!!! We were enthusiastic as Angkor Wat is the main attraction in Siem Reap, for its unique architecture that can’t be seen anywhere else. The sunrise was amazing but it wasn’t as good as we thought it was :/ Many stories were told about the history of the kingdom and temple, we learnt a lot about the culture and heritage from our tour guide:) afterwards, we went back to the circus and took part in a workshop which was lead by the actors in the circus. It was an amazing experience to learn juggling and acrobatics with them as we watched them perform the night before:)

We took a 2 hour trip to the suburbs where our main campsite/village is located. We will help them with an array of services. Before entering the village, we were treated with a water blessing that really gave insight to the richness of the Cambodian traditions that we can’t see in Hong Kong. We were introduced to the rooms where we stay for the night and immediately regretted not cherishing the luxurious air conditioning that was in our rooms in the night before. We saw this as an challenge and we decided to overcome our pickiness for our rooms by the end of the trip.

We went to get blessed by the monks who flicked water on us and learnt how prayers are done in Cambodian Buddhism. Most of us never get to experience cultural rituals like this so we were very immersed and spiritually fulfilled.

Afterwards, we took a long walk to visit another temple that had ancient ruins– as Cambodia was going through an ongoing war with Vietnam. It re-emphasised the strong heritage of Cambodia, that us Hong Kongers rarely see.

To our surprise, Mr Mak secretly arranged another water blessing, telling the monks this time to douse with buckets of water, leaving is incredibly blessed!!!

We ended the day off with card games, fried chicken and nice cold showers !!🌧🌧☔️💧💧😄

By Qiqi and Oscar (on behalf of the Cambodia CAS trip group)

Day 1 – 19/11/17

Today was our first day of our CAS week, we arrived at the airport early in the morning and headed to Siem Reap. We visited the local Cambodian silk farm and sculpture workshop, we learned about the process of manufacturing these amazing products which represent Cambodian culture. After dinner, we watched the Phare Circus Performance. It was incredible !

The most memorable event was walking through the silk farm, our tour guide explained how silk is produced whilst also educating us information about about Cambodia’s complex history. The workers worked really hard and we were very impressed by their work ethics. At the end of the tour, we saw their final products in the souvenir store and we were extremely amazed by how the workers could transform a few silk threads into different products such as scarfs and shirts.

Additionally, the organisation who organises the circus performance aim to provide aid for underprivileged children by training them into an experienced artist. We thought the performance was just for entertainment, we can’t believe it also has another purpose of giving back to the underprivileged community. After watching the circus performance, we cannot wait for the circus workshop tomorrow and learn some new tricks!

By Yoyo and Sarah (on behalf of the Cambodia CAS trip group)

Cambodia, Here We Come!

November 19th to November 25th is our CAS trip to Cambodia and we CAN’T WAIT! All of us are very excited and nervous at the same time because we’ll be stepping out of our comfort zones and leaving home for a week to face scenarios that may not appear in Hong Kong! During our stay in Cambodia, we hope to encounter and overcome various challenges such as building toilets and reforestation work. Some other challenges we will face are living in the community area which is not as developed as Hong Kong, communicating with local students, working with other schools and teaching students that are not fluent in English. We hope to learn about the lifestyle of another country and to be open-minded during this trip as we open ourselves to a world outside the urban cage of Hong Kong! We look forward to our CAS Trip and experience the diverse culture and rich history of Cambodia!

Author: Samantha Lau (The Cambodia CAS Trip Group)

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