Here is the latest clip from our Cambodia volunteer trip with non-profit Globe Aware. In this segment, our group visits a local orphanage, giving the children a chance to practice English with native speakers.
Orphanage tourism in Cambodia has been under fire lately. There have been some disreputable agencies who have established faux orphanages to attract Western tourists. That said, our voluntour partner, Globe Aware, fully vetted this facility to ensure its legitimacy. They take great care and work closely with their in-country coordinators to ensure that these visits do not adversely affect the children. Personally, I wasn’t sure how I would feel. I certainly didn’t want to cause a problem or create confusion among the kids with my presence.
When we arrived, I was pleased to see that the kids seemed happy and well cared for. I was also incredibly impressed with their intelligence as they guided us around their facility. They seemed to be receiving a very good education and, beyond English, many of them had also studied other languages like Japanese and Chinese. There was a definite sense of family and community between the older and younger children. I also liked the nature of our volunteer project. As guest “teachers”, our visit was friendly and short. We mixed our English practice with fun and silliness and everyone seemed to have a very good time.
Overall, I felt that, in this instance, our orphanage visit did have a tangible benefit for the children. Both in and out of the classroom, the children had a chance to interact with Western visitors and practice their English skills. These skills will help them as they age out of the system and move into real world jobs — with one of the greatest opportunities being in the growing tourism industry.