I find myself sitting inside a warm and very spacious computer lab at University staring outside captivated by a gigantic white Aeroplane hovering above, headed for an unknown destination. Such a magnificent machine, a feat of human conception and engineering ignites my imagination and makes me ponder about the many places around the world it has been, the different people it has seen and the diverse languages it has heard since its birth. I also find myself looking up at the glorious blue skies that grace Sydney with another beautiful windy autumn day; however, I can't help but think of the exciting adventure that awaits me in less than three weeks as I too will be on a similar plane headed for the Kingdom of Kampuchea otherwise known as Cambodia. Preparing to undertake an international development immersion program with my university, my mind begins ponder over many questions like what it is exactly that I aim to do whilst I am in Cambodia? What should I expect? What am I going to learn? Will my actions have positive or negative consequences? Am I going to be safe? How will I cope or deal with the confronting nature of both the country's historic and present political, economic and social landscape? These are but some of the questions I find myself pondering over.
Although I have some uncertainties that I think about, I am rather excited about the time I will be spending in Cambodia. For me, this will be a perfect opportunity to apply the knowledge I have attained in trying to gain an in depth understanding of the political, economic and social challenges such as high levels of poverty and unemployment, systemic corruption, human trafficking and the legacy left behind by the Khmer rouge that continues to affect Cambodia and the Khmer people and what government and non-government development strategies are being used to aid in the alleviation of some of these issues. However, what makes me most excited about this immersion program is that despite the country's development issues, Cambodia is a kingdom rich in ancient and modern history from the Khmer empire to the time of French imperialism. It is such history that has shaped the culture and traditions of the Khmer and it astounds me that despite the dark chapters of the Cambodia's past with the Khmer rouge people still remain very resilient. This is something I must learn and experience for myself.
I believe visiting Non-government organisations and being able to connect with the Khmer people and their culture will be beneficial in trying to understand the country's development challenges and enable me to gain experience as a future development practitioner and researcher. If I take on a role in advocacy in the future with an organisation such as the United Nations, I believe this experience will serve as a reminder that I am advocating for real people (not just figures in a report)who face real problems, in addressing the political, economic and social issues that face developing nations around the world. I look forward to adventure that awaits.