As the disparity between wealth and poverty in the world grows greater every year, there is no question that your generation will play a crucial role in closing that gap. Life for most of the world's six billion people is a struggle, with many unable to access clean water, sufficient food, and protection from the elements.
The problems of the world are great, and it would be impossible to fix them overnight. However, we at Rustic Pathways have reason to believe that you can make a difference. For decades now, we have been running community service programs in some of the world's more remote and underprivileged areas. Year after year, we have learned through the villagers that we've worked with and the students who have joined us that above all else, there is still hope. Despite the hardships that people face around the world, change for the better is happening and it is easier to accomplish than most people realise.
Rustic Pathways is proud to introduce 'From the Ground Up' for students interested in learning the inner workings of real aid projects. Unlike our other service programs, this one is decidedly academic. You will design a group project for an underprivileged community in Cambodia and work with local people to see it come to fruition. This entails cultivating a service project from its inception and turning it into a reality. Those who join this team must be willing to do the groundwork necessary to achieve the program goals. You will learn from professionals in the field how projects operate from start to finish - from drafting a project proposal and grant request to working on the ground and finally assessing the project's impact on the community.
From the Ground Up will introduce you to Cambodia's complex history and help you understand the influences that shape the country today. You will be responsible for completing the program reading list and submitting an essay prior to departure. This program will be touching on a number of very real and sensitive issues, so you should be prepared to deal with mature subject matter.
Throughout this program, you will be challenged to check their preconceived notions at the door and learn from the local people. From the outside, it's often easy to think that you know what is best for everyone else. During this program you will listen to local opinions and suggestions above all others, and your projects will be based around the feedback that you get from your Cambodian friends. You will generate a number of project proposals, and the group will choose the most beneficial based on research done in the field. Collaboration and teamwork is a must, as one proposal and grant request will be fulfilled per trip. Other project proposals will be considered as future pilot projects for the Rustic Pathways Foundation.
If you're looking for an intensive service program with a real-world academic element to it, From the Ground Up is the program for you. Whether you're aspiring to start your own grassroots service project, want to learn about contemporary issues in Southeast Asia, or wish to challenge yourself to be a part of positive change in action, Rustic Pathways cordially invites you to join us in Cambodia for this exciting new program.
* Admission is by application only - students must submit a 500- to 700-word essay to be accepted into this program. Essays should state why From the Ground Up interests you and how this experience would apply to your life. Submit your essay by email with a brief introduction and a subject of From the Ground Up to firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Pre-program reading list required, and pre-program assignment from Trip Leader will be sent prior to departure. This reading list will be an interesting variety of topics in the field.
* Admission is by application only - students must submit a 500- to 700-word essay to be accepted into this program. Essays should state why From the Ground Up interests you and how this experience would apply to your life.
* Pre-program reading list required and pre-program assignment from Trip Leader will be sent prior to departure.
As you exit airport customs, your Rustic Pathways trip leaders and fellow travellers will be waiting just outside the door. From here you will take a private van to the hotel where you can freshen up before heading over to the bustling riverside for your welcome dinner. Meet your trip leaders and the other students from all around the world, and talk about all the exciting things that are in store over the next week!
Rise and shine for your first full day in Phnom Penh. Not only is this city the political and economic hub of the country, but it also has one of the largest concentrations of NGOs and international aid groups in the world.
After breakfast, you will have an introduction to Cambodia's past and present, giving you a firm foundation that will help you understand your surroundings. A tuk-tuk ride through the buzzing traffic of Phnom Penh will give you a personal look at street life and the neighbourhoods that make up this city. Your first stop will be the notorious Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, where local guides will share with you their personal stories of terror and triumph. Then head out for a tour of the Killing Fields.
You will begin the day with visits to some of the successful NGO projects that have made a difference in Phnom Penh. You will have meetings with various consultants who will answer questions about what it takes to start your own aid project. The focus will be on the purpose of their project, the plan of action, and the basics of grant writing. The projects will involve a range of humanitarian work. You may meet people who are helping street kids, designing women's vocational training programs, addressing environmental concerns such as wildlife preservation or solar power in rural villages, working on food donation programs, and getting medical care to those who need it most. At the end of each day students and staff will meet to compare notes, reference the reading material, and reflect on the power of these projects.
It is now time to head out to your project village, which has been selected by our Cambodian Service Team. For the next two days you will live with the residents of this village and see exactly what life here is like. You will collect data by speaking to village elders, local residents and even children - remember to keep in mind everything you learned over the last few days during this process! You may find yourself helping out in a garden while listening to local people's stories or participating in some popular non-verbal communication - volleyball! This time is really about taking in your surroundings, getting to know the people who live here, and figuring out how you can help them the most.
Now that you have seen several examples of projects in action, met with international aid consultants, and also embedded yourself in the service village, it will be time to come up with a plan and a project. You will submit a project proposal of your own to the Rustic Pathways Foundation for consideration.
The group project and budget have been approved. Now it's time to buy materials and get crackin'! The next five days will be spent in the field: building, planting, teaching, creating, or doing whatever is necessary to complete your project. You should feel great about yourself. Sustainable improvements have been set into place, and you have played a crucial role in every step.
Congratulations on a job well done! Today you will head to Siem Reap to explore the ancient temple of Angkor Wat enjoy some down time. You will also have time to reflect on your time spent in the village and the goals you accomplished. What has this experience meant to you and what does it mean in a global sense in terms of instituting grassroots change?
Community service is a life-long journey, one that we never tire of here at Rustic Pathways, and we hope you won't either. You now have the necessary tools to start your own organisation or simply find an area in need and step in to lend a helping hand. We encourage you to take what you have learned and branch out on your own. Sowat tah peep! Be safe and best of luck! As you now know, small numbers can equal big change.
After breakfast, it will be time to say goodbye to Cambodia.
You will depart from Siem Reap International Airport or go on to connect with other Rustic Pathways programs in Cambodia.
Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity. The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.
A quick note: Many students over-pack and sometimes have to pay for overweight bags on domestic flights. The weight limit is 15 kilograms. You'll have frequent access to laundry on this program, so you won't need that many clothes. We won't tell on you if you wear the same t-shirt twice!
A duffle bag, suitcase, or large backpack. Wheeled suitcases are fun, but may not roll so well in rice paddies. All items listed with “Plastic Bag” should be packed inside a plastic bag in case bottles leak or break.
$150-$300 The Lotus Market in central Battambang has an amazing variety of crafts, clothing, and unbelievable miscellaneous trinkets and shopping there is a real treat, so budget more if you're a big time shopper and less if you're a go light, less is more, bring home only the memories kind of traveller.
Granted, Cambodia has had a rough past but the country is experiencing a booming recovery thanks in large part to tourism. Both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are incredibly tourist friendly. As far as the danger due to land mines, the areas where we will be have been thoroughly cleared and very safe. That being said, we always take further precautions like walking only on well-travelled paths to ensure our safety.
All our staff members in Cambodia have cell phones and are in constant contact with the main Rustic Pathways office. In the case of an emergency, we will be notified by our main office and pass any necessary information on to your child. Our students, however, are not permitted to have cell phones because these tend to interfere with group dynamics. Our staff members will notify you by email within 24 hours of your child's safe arrival in Cambodia. Almost every area we will be visiting has access to Internet and on some evenings students will have time to use Internet cafes.
This decision is best made by you, your child, and your family physician. For up to date information to help your decision please visit the World Health Organisation website (http://www.who.int/en) and consult your physician.
We provide mosquito nets when necessary so no need to bring your own!
Check out the packing list but please pack lightly! Remember that you are in charge of carrying your bag so the lighter your bag the easier on your shoulders! It is very easy to purchase additional clothing or items that were forgotten at home.