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Trip leader, Beatrice Ng (in green) having used to participating in local community projects sees this Cambodia YEP trip as an opportunity to give her a wider perspective of community service. | Photo by Beatrice Ng

Students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s School of Film & Media Studies talk about their reasons for going on the Cherish Cambodia service learning trip

By Shannon Ang

Committing two weeks to setting up a children’s library and cleaning up the village in Cambodia’s rural regions is not everyone’s cup of tea but students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s School of Film & Media Studies (FMS) are game; armed with an open heart and mind to spend the term break meaningfully.

From Sept 6-19, 20 students and three FMS staff – Mrs Sng-Fun Poh Yoke, Mr Lam Boon Seong and Mr Jack Sim – are embarking on a Youth Expedition Project (YEP), named “Cherish Cambodia 2017”. The team will visit Kampong Thom’s Beong Village and Glad Tidings International School and FGA Care Centre in Kampong Speu to work on various projects.

These projects include working with teachers there on an environmental awareness campaign, giving English lessons and clearing the land to plant mulberry trees at a silkworm farm.

Despite being informed of tough living conditions during the pre-trip briefing, Daphne Kang, 18, a second-year Mass Communication student applied for the YEP after hearing from her FMS friends that it is “definitely not an experience to be missed”.

Having been on church mission trips to Philippines before, she knows what is expected and wants to broaden her horizons by going somewhere different to compare the differences between the two countries.

“There will definitely be a language barrier but I want to connect with [the villagers in Cambodia] emotionally. I also expect myself to learn from them. They are poor yet are able to live life happily and don’t feel that the world owes them anything. I think this trip will serve as a good reminder of how fortunate I am,” she said.

Similarly, Niger Lim, 17, a second-year Film, Sound and Video student, wants to see life from another perspective after living in relative comfort thus far.

“Naturally, a YEP trip gave me the impression that I would be helping people in wildly different circumstances. I knew I needed to give it a chance,” the first-time YEP participant added.

However, this YEP trip holds a greater meaning for Koh Jie Min, 18, a second-year Mass Communication student. To her, the YEP is not just lending a hand to the needy but also helping herself. She acknowledges that their problems cannot be simply resolved in the two weeks the group is there but through the experience, values such as empathy and humility will be cultivated that can result in greater change in the participants themselves.

“Right now as students, we offer our strength for a couple weeks, in the future as working adults we have more to offer than just that.”

With the intention of ending her final year at FMS meaningfully with this trip, Beatrice Ng, 19, final- year Mass Communication student who is also one of the student leaders on the trip, has only one hope for the trip.

“My only hope is for everyone to participate in every activity with utmost sincerity and we’ll work out our differences to give the children in Cambodia the best that we can give and bring home more than just memorable moments. This would be the greatest fulfillment.”

As part of serving the community, a fund-raising drive was conducted from Jul 31 to Aug 2 to collect canned food, clothes and shoes for the children in Cambodia. More than 200 kg of these items were donated by NP staff and students and cash amounting to $1800 was collected as well.

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