1. What are your personal objectives for this trip and how did you hope to achieve this from the beginning?
I signed up for this trip with certain intentions in mind hoping to achieve. One of the main objectives is to let go of restrictions on general stuffs such as how we carry ourselves in terms of action, speech and attitude. As well as how we think while we are in Singapore and embrace the new experience whole heartedly. Well, definitely, the systems of how things work both here and Cambodia would be a vast difference and hence, to actually experience something new over there would require some sort of 'change' in mindsets. For me, I just started going to the library to read up on the culture of Cambodia. Another point is to try talking to someone close about how I felt about the trip. It's like you have to acknowledge that we don't intend to make this OCIP trip a vacation and hence, there are bound to be hardships and things that you would find it reluctant to do yet has to to shoulder on. So I thought a pre-trip personal talk would be essential. Secondly, I wanted to become more independent in terms of both physically and emotionally. I'm not exactly sure how I tried to prepare to achieve this but it does similar to the previous objectives such as talking to someone about it. Thirdly, is to learn something new from the trip. Well, I guess, to prepare for this objective is to actually be open-minded and be prepared to take criticism and well as acknowledge those times when you are wrong and take a step back, instead of stubbornly insist that you're right?
2. How did you prepare for this trip? Did you and the team do anything special?
In terms of culturally, we did research on what they have over there as well as what to expect; on their culture, behaviors, what to do and what not to, their history. Speaking of their history, I thought it was extremely sad. Though there are definitely the positive side of it just like there are two sides to a coin, somehow, I felt intensely sad, for them, their people, their history, their descendants. I mean, their lives has been scared by their history that their forefathers have written down and it would take decades for them to totally put the past behind and move on. Also, we did a pre-trip CIP for kids at an day care centre for the needy. Perhaps by doing so, it could help us prepare of what to expect though I somehow felt it wasn't very helpful since the situation here and over there was totally different which no one could have expected unless they had experienced it first hand at Cambodia.
3. Di you meet anyone special or hear any stories or gain any insights from the whole trip?
Yes. The people we met that left the most deep impression was those kids in UNACAS. They were special, they taught me that life isn't just about going after what you want but it's about living together, to love one another and simply, be happy. Well, initially, I was that kind of a person to strictly follow plans, and if there would be last minute changes, I would throw fits but somehow, after being there for some time, I realized that things were moving so fast back home that you don't have time to see what's happening but merely, going through each day as it is. It's like, a dead corpse doing repetitive work, day after day. Without realizing that we are not interested in what's happening to our friends, family anymore. To show care and concern for others, to take things slowly and think why are you doing this, doing that. To also truly find out who you are, what you want to do, what you want to achieve. And I thought by the time, people stopped and think, it would be too late because things would have been too complicated by then. Perhaps, it's not too late, but rather, just too complicated to understand things. Just like going for this OCIP trip, we are going there to help people in whatever way we can, but somehow it felt that without doing daily reflections, we would easily fall for the trap of 'doing just for the sake of it'. We have to understand the objectives behind the good deed we do. To find out more about others, about the meaning of our lives and ultimately, about ourselves. Isn't it?
4. Do you think that your presence is of any benefit to the beneficiaries?
Personally, I felt our presence was of some benefit to them. Though not much in the financial sector since it seems that they could sustain themselves just as well without our interference. Yet, we came in handy in terms of upgrading their language skills such as improving their English. It's important since it's the universal language and it may the tool to lift them out of the poverty circle, to lend them a hand towards a new life. Yet, there's a contradiction since they have the ability to sustain themselves, I'm sure they would have the capability to actually hire professionals for their lessons. Wait, on the other hand. Perhaps it would not be a good idea to hire since the kids should learn the way of life and experience to hard way so as not to take things for granted. Lastly, I somehow felt that it's the other way round when it comes to who's the beneficiaries since it seems that they are the ones to provide an opportunity for us to learn more about ourselves and attain independence.
5. Are there any improvements you think you can do?
Improvements for what? for whom? For me, perhaps I could have been more opened and embrace the new experience whole heartedly so as to thoroughly enjoy myself while learning.
6. Did you achieve your personal objectives at the end of the trip?
7. Any other thoughts you might want to pen down?
Well, I just want to give credit to my two great teachers who took care of us over there, I'm sure it isn't easy. Also, not forgetting to mention the reflection that Mr Chong led was fabulous. Though at times it just doesn't seems appropriate since it has been a very tiring day. Still, if not for it. I don't think we would be able to discover it for ourselves. As I've said, without reflections, it would just be day after day of work, while working through it blindly. And ultimately, the trip would have been wasted. Also, I feel that the mentors shouldn't take things to hard that their students are having a hard time to see the big picture. Since every kid would have different level of maturity and mindsets, it would take different experiences to actually make them see. So perhaps, as mentors, should put in their 100% and hope for the best. Anyways, the trip was fruitful for me and I'm sure, for the others too. <333333