[Cambodia] 'Seo-by' in Cambodia
[Cambodia] 'Seo-by' in Cambodia
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  • 승인 2007.03.23 14:02
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Young-Dong Kim
   After I came back from Cambodia, I've been sick and couldn't do anything but idle my time away for a while. I realized that I returned to Korea, and I thought of my volunteer activities in Cambodia for 23 days. A lot of precious memories and unforgettable experiences came to mind. Even now, thinking of Cambodia, I become absorbed in memories of my happy days and friendly people there.
     I was seeing my name on the list of those who had passed the interview for the 12th Overseas Volunteer Corps to Cambodia at the end of November. For me, that was a second challenge and I prepared for it very hard. So, it was such a great pleasure to be a member of the OVC. When the OVC members first met all together, I told them that I would like to be a leader and I was chosen to be a leader. I still can't figure out why and how I was able to stand up like that. After the first meeting, I kept in touch with them to make all the members get to know each other better. After final exams were over, we rushed into real practice full time. Within a very short period, we managed to do Taekwondo, Samulnori, fan dance, pop dance, water rocket, and Art & Korean Education'. Our team members must have been very tired because the practice was very hard and tough. However, they never complained and did their best. I really appreciate their hard working and give them a big hand. 
Upon arriving at Phenom-Phen city on January 8th, we moved to Hunsen Kampong Phenom high school the next day. All the teachers and students gave us a warm round of applause while standing in a long line. I was so deeply impressed, and from then on our volunteer activities began for a week. At first it was disappointing and embarrassing that we couldn't do well as we hoped, but the students there always smiled and liked our performances and educational programs. They participated in the class with curiosity and passion. While staying there everything from eating to sleeping was totally different from Korea. Of course, it was kind of tough to stay there, but as time went by I managed to live there without big difficulties. The students came to us whenever they had free time and they were always friendly and gave us gifts or letters. We had a great time talking and laughing together. But we had to leave them when time came. It was a sad experience. 
     With unfulfilling feelings, we moved on to the next volunteer site called the Rawlings institute. We were shocked as soon as we got there since it was a completely different circumstance compared to Hun Sen Kampong Phenom high school. All the buildings were very clean with up-to-date facilities. We were so glad to see those wonderful surroundings, but I thought that the place was kind of luxurious and not fully matched for the purpose of our volunteer activities. We stayed there for 12 days. The school was founded on Christianity and had strict rules, so that it was hard to have any personal time with the students. Besides, students seemed too shy to participate. I appreciate their enthusiasm for learning, however. On the last day of Korean class, after teaching the Korean traditional song 'Arirang', the students wanted to learn more about Korean songs.
I saw their eyes reflecting interest in Korean culture. One student said "it is very thankful for you to visit us every year, and it is great pleasure to talk with you and share the cultures of both countries." I thought the volunteer work itself is not something great but becoming their friends with a true heart and willing to listen to what they're saying do! 
     I was regretful and disappointed about my voluntary activities in many respects. Especially as a team leader, I don't hink I was good enough to be a leader, showing leadership characteristics. But I have no regrets for now. Just as everyone knows, nothing can be prepared perfectly and there will always be mistakes and regrets. Instead, we did our best every moment during our time in Cambodia and I made precious friends and everlasting memories. Most of all, the director Jung Byung Man was like a father and the vice director Pi Chang Ho looked after all members with kindness. My team members were the greatest presents to me as well as happiness. Seo-by means happiness in Cambodian language. Cambodian people often asked me "Are you Seo-by?" Whenever they did, I hesitated to say "Yes, I am." Even though they are living in an underdeveloped country or have not enough money, they seemed to be happy as could be and I envied them. Now I can surely say to them "I was happy in Cambodia and I am happy now."

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