James Whitler – West Point Cadets

July 12, 2010

Today, as I sit in the sun reflecting on the last few weeks, I cannot help but feel fortunate. My time spent in Cambodia has been very rewarding, and my experiences with JWOC have helped me see Cambodia in a ways I would have never imagined. Over the course of my stay here, I have worked with JWOC handing out water purification systems to villages, monitoring wells, teaching self-defense classes, and helping small business owners who have taken microfinance loans from the NGO. These experiences have shown me aspects of Cambodia that I would have otherwise missed and has helped me to develop a genuine appreciation for Cambodian Culture.

Traveling to Cambodia as a westerner can seem a little overwhelming at first, but after a while the people and the culture will make you not want to leave. It pays to have an open mind though. While in Cambodia, I have had to change my perceptions on many things—including what is edible, and my idea of safe travel. The locals here eat just about anything you can imagine, big spiders, baby frogs, crickets, small birds, among other things are all considered treats here. While I was hesitant at first, after trying these local treats I will admit they aren’t too bad, in fact the baby frogs were really good! Another thing that surprised me about Cambodia is the roads. The first time driving on a road in Cambodia is an adventure. It will not take long to see that traffic laws are more suggestions, and the idea that a vehicle may have a caring capacity is notional. However, this too only added to the trip’s overall fun and excitement.

While eating crazy foods and driving on crazy roads was cool, the best part about the trip was the people. Cambodian people are amazing people. They are fun, they love to laugh, they love to smile, and they seem to just love life. All of the people working at JWOC and the people at the B&B were amazing and more than happy to share their culture with you. Of all the things I love about Cambodia, I have to admit it is the people that I love the most, and it is those people I am going to miss when I finally have to go home. All I hope is that some of the happiness and joy the Cambodian people showed me will stick with me when I finally have to leave.

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