Saturday, October 9, 2010

To the Future Peace Corps Volunteers of Cambodia:

Congratulations - you’ve won the golden ticket!

You’ve succeeded in securing the opportunity to serve the United States and the Peace Corps in one of the most amazing places in the world, Cambodia!

At first you may be a bit apprehensive. There were and are some strange rumors flying around out there about Cambodia – its people, culture, et al. Do not be worried though- only most of these are untrue.

What is true is that the people here are warm and welcoming and cannot wait to meet you. They will invite you in for lunch but you’ll stay until well after dinner. You will not be able to walk down a street without at least one child yelling “Hello!” to you or an older woman saying how beautiful you are (and this goes if you are a woman OR a man). And they will make sure that you are safe – even when you do not sense danger.

It needs your help though. Cambodia is rebuilding itself from basically nothing. Those five years under the Khmer Rouge cost it more than just that. Without educated people, communities went without education and reliable health care for a long time. Things are changing quickly, however, and I am constantly amazed at the incredible changes my rural community has undergone within the short time of me living there.

It is a very exciting time to be in Cambodia. And as a health volunteer even more so! The opportunities to affect and change other people’s lives are endless. My name is Kellee and I am an education and health volunteer. Our group, K3 (Kampuchea 3), was the guinea pig for the Peace Corps Community Health Education program. The K4 group was the first to have a group of just health volunteers; which makes you part of the second group ever, in Peace Corps Cambodia history, of Community Health Educators. While we fumbled around our health centers looking for ways to be productive and helpful, you will have a much easier time of it with the wisdom of two previous groups’ experiences to aid you in your encounters.

You may be nervous about teaching health in rural Cambodia. I was:
“Health?!” I exclaimed, “How can I teach about heath when I was a History major whose experience with Health is limited to a couple of CPR classes that the Red Cross taught me?”
My first hand experience has shown me that even something small, like teaching about hand washing, can go a long way. You do not need to be a Mayo brother to help Cambodia, just be flexible, open, and a good listener. And before you ever even step foot on site, you will have the benefit of some amazing training from Peace Corps staff that other volunteers here, outside Peace Corps, are quite jealous of.

So get ready to break out of the comfort zone, to do something different and amazing and meet wonderfully unique people while doing so! I am completely serious when I say you have won a prize by being picked to serve in Cambodia. It is a country rich with culture, beauty, and people who deserve your help. You can only be so lucky as to have served in Cambodia.

Best of luck in your service,

Kellee Keegan,
K3 Health and Education Volunteer
Romeas Hek District,
Svay Reing Province, Cambodia

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