Unexpected Initiatives

In previous blog posts I spoke about the problematic nature of short term volunteering and the importance of developing goals and establishing outcomes for ongoing sustainability. I also spoke about the near eradication of traditional Cambodian arts and myself and Matt’s efforts to begin cataloguing traditional Khmer instruments.

Throughout our journey with the three artists we were working with it was a times challenging to find a way to effectively exchange learning. Challenges were further met with Cambodian timetables and work taking precedence over learning without notice.

What was unexpected however was the initiative that all three artists began to take in our final few days in Siem Reap. After being invited to present at both Build Bright University and Shine International School the artists showed great determination and growth.

All three students allocated extra time outside of lessons to further educate themselves on their art forms and also to further develop their literacy skills. They also dedicated extra rehearsal time for their devised piece prior to the presentations.

Pon, Tipp abd Pree describing their traditional art forms
Pon, Tipp abd Pree describing their traditional art forms

Subsequently on our final day, I was working with both Pon and another artist Pree in cataloguing the photographs of the Khmer instruments we had taken previously. During the session Sounds of Angkor troupe leader Pon informed me that this was a project he had wanted to do and share with other artists and visitors. Reflecting on my initial perception on short term volunteering and sustainability I realized that this was a way to effectively contribute to not only the arts sector in Cambodia but more importantly to the artist. So I decided to pass on the photographs and subsequently the project to Pon to continue himself.

Through the collaborative efforts of Matt and I to ensure our limited time created value, I now believe that short term volunteering has the potential to positively and equally impact both participating parties. Furthermore, “while it is true that this type of volunteer work provides only sporadic assistance, it can allow the organization to complete projects more quickly and to initiate new projects (GoStudy.ca 2011).”


GoStudy.ca 2001, Can Short Term International Volunteering Really Make a Difference?, GoStudy [Online] Available at: http://www.gostudy.ca/volunteerism/can-short-term-international-volunteering-really-make-a-difference.html [Accessed 22nd July 2015]













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