About us

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Back row, L to R: Chris P, Chris LP, Jessica
Front row, L to R: Cathy, Emily, Jessie, Matt
Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 21 June 2015

Matt says: 

Hello there! I would like to introduce myself as Matt: the third of four children, an uncle, a good friend, an education enthusiast, and a bit of a yogi. I currently study a bachelor of secondary teaching (humanities) with great passion and intend to become a qualified English/Drama teacher. My travel experience to date includes New Zealand, Thailand, Fiji, the United Kingdom and Europe. I view this project as an opportunity for me to develop my skills in the creative arts through the building of meaningful relationships in the Cambodian culture. I am mostly excited by the project’s focus on community and cultural events because I hope that my involvement in relevant activities will positively impact on the lives of Cambodian students and the community alike.

Emily says:

I have always had a burning desire for the purpose of my life to be one that makes a difference in others’. However, my experiences in my gap year, when I participated in a volunteer study program in the rural Australian town of Canowindra, lead me to Teaching. I saw so clearly the authority a teacher has to speak good into lives, and I was called. I am in my third year; majoring in English and Drama. I am incredibly passionate about teaching; whether that is in Australia or overseas. I’ve travelled to Thailand on a multipurpose visit that involved helping out at an orphanage, then going out into the community and using the arts to teach language skills at schools and a university. Studying Global Perspectives of Education, I’m passionate about global and cross-cultural understanding, appreciation and collaboration. One of my long term dreams is to live and work in Asia as a teacher. In order to teach effectively this would involve a deep surrendering of self-ideas in order to understand and teach to a different culture. I strongly desire to help, learn and grow from this experience. It’s evident that I am excited about this trip.

Chris says: 

Some people are remarkably gifted. I have friends that will quietly and thoughtfully consider something, and when they’ve finally found just the right words to say, they give them voice. I’m not so fortunate. My brain ticks over as my mouth or my fingers move.  This tendency to think out loud means I’m prone to self-divulging a little too much at times… asking too many questions… and has probably played a part in making me quick to apologise. I’m a bit of a risk taker and an improviser; traits that don’t go astray as a musician/student. I’m in the third of four years as a Bachelor of Music/Arts student.One of the things that caught my eye about this project was the potential to interact with people that take tradition and mentoring quite seriously. I hope and expect that this trip will afford me the opportunity to engage with the stories of the Cambodian people. Their story does have some tragedies, but I’m sure it also has plenty of treasures. I want to hear them. I want to meet the people that are preserving the gold of the past for the next generation, and I want to learn from them.

Jessie says:

Hey everyone, my name is Jessie! I’m a fourth year music student and am currently in the progress of completing my Honours thesis! This trip to Cambodia is going to be a fantastic opportunity to help me gain greater understanding about Cambodian music, arts and culture. This experience will be rewarding, as it will allow me to further my Honours research into Indigenous cultural revitalisation. I am really looking forward to working collaboratively with Cambodian NGOs such as Cambodian Living Arts (CLA) and Empowering Youth Cambodia (EYC), and participating in many creative arts projects! My travel experiences to date have included backpacking throughout parts of Western and Eastern Europe, India and South-East Asia. This UON trip is going to be jam-packed full of exciting adventures, valuable learning experiences, and a whole lot of Cambodian music and performing arts! Watch this space to follow our amazing Cambodian journey!

Chris (another one) says: 

Hello, my name is Chris and I am one of six people who will be going to Cambodia through the New Colombo Program. On this trip to Cambodia I will be majorly working with Cambodia Living Arts (CLA) and will be doing a variety of different and interesting jobs and tasks. Throughout the trip I plan on creating video entries which will show a first person experience of the Cambodian culture and different lifestyles compared to the west culture. More about myself though, I am the youngest of three in my family, I am currently doing a Bachelor of Arts double majoring in Creative and Performing Arts and Sociology. My focus within performance art is political theatre and socially engaged art practice. I believe these two forms of theatre can create change and open the eyes of the audience who are involved. I think this is why I am so interested in learning more about the Cambodian lifestyle and culture.

Jess says: 

Hi my name is Jessica and I would travel to the ends of the earth just to have a conversation. I am currently studying a Bachelor of Arts, double major Creative and Performing Arts. I have been travelling down an artistic path focusing on theatre and performance and its potential impacts on society and ourselves as individuals. I have travelled to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Vanuatu, England and America and I have found my passion in Theatre for empowerment and development. I am humbled to be returning to Cambodia and culturally exchanging, sharing and experiencing one another through interaction and performance. I hope to further develop my skills and knowledge in Khmer culture, arts and artistic practice with the view to relocate to Cambodia in 18 months time to continue this type of work.

Cathy (the project leader) says: 
I’m the one who got the landed the lot of us in this project in the first place! I’m a researcher/lecturer in the School of Creative Arts at the University of Newcastle. My research looks at ways to support communities keep their  cultural traditions strong, and the potential role of culture in social improvement. This will be my fourth trip to Cambodia. I’m looking forward to catching up with the people I met on earlier trips, practising my Khmer (and the inevitable communication breakdowns that follow), and delving more deeply into the magnificent Cambodian performing arts scene. And to the very new and exciting experience of sharing my travels with six students…