Since starting my first semester with SFS I have experienced exciting challenges, made new discoveries, met lots of interesting people and made many happy memories. I can’t quite believe that now is my 7th and final semester with the organization before I move to the United Kingdom. Throughout my time with SFS I have felt supported in all my roles from starting as a part time program assistant to progressing to a full time position to finally becoming the site manager at the SFS Center in Siem Reap. Every semester I have relished the chance to introduce my beautiful and marvelous country, the place that I proudly call home, to the new students and I am always happy to learn more about the differences between my life here and theirs in the United States.
There is so much for them to learn about Cambodia: our culture, people, language, environment, traditional livelihoods, history and so much more. I enjoy helping the students get ready for all the challenges coming their way; classes and field trips from the mountain to the forest, to the lake and around Cambodia with our amazing professors and staff who make sure everything goes as smooth as possible.
As the Cambodian staff member who has worked the longest with the program here I have the best opportunity to see how the study abroad program has brought so many different students from different universities to become one, to see how strong they could be, how hardworking they are, how they become adapted to their new home over the course of the semester and how they grow and learn together. The bonds they form and the way that I see them help each other is very special. They laugh, they jump at the chance to try new things, and all the while they still try their best to get good grades in class. They face many challenges over their time here including long and uncomfortable bus rides, the constant heat of the dry season followed by the monsoon rains, and mud and yet all of them leave a stronger person when it comes time to go back home! The semester they spend abroad may well be the making of some of these students as it opens their eyes to the world and their surroundings much more than just studying in the US.
From the first bright rays of the sunrise and to the beautiful lingering sunset, Cambodia never disappoints and with new things to learn every day, our students love it here. Our peaceful center is surrounded by trees and full of unexpected guests such as birds, frogs, butterflies, geckos etc. Hopefully our students will carry the memories of these things with them when they leave, to use and to share wisely. Our strong and dynamic team is always here to support and look forward to providing the students with our passion and knowledge for the better, whether it be regarding the course they are studying or the amazing country they are studying in.
I am very grateful for all of my time working with SFS and really thankful for my team. I will carry all of these amazing experiences with me everywhere I go and wish all of the students (past, present and future) to succeed with their dreams to help out, not just Cambodia but for the whole world to be a better place!
Orkun Chran (Thank you)