My early involvement with JWOC:

In December of 2007, we traveled from our posting in Beijing to visit Siem Reap, tour the archeological highlights and participate in the Angkor Wat Half Marathon. We stayed at Journeys Within Boutique Hotel and met JWOC founders, Brandon and Andrea Ross. They described the philosophy of the non-profit they established and shared information about how I could get involved. After leaving Cambodia, I decided to sponsor a JWOC university student because of my belief in the transformational power of education. I enjoyed corresponding with my JWOC scholarship student; this exchange provided me a chance to get to know my highly-motivated and hard-working student better, understand Cambodian culture and share a bit about US culture with my student.

What impressed me most about JWOC:

The way the non-profit was structured to be sustainable and scalable, with local program managers and the scholarship program at its heart. This approach evolved from the influence of the founders and JWOC’s motto, “See a problem, solve a problem.” JWOC’s committed and skilled staff deliver well-run programs that encourage beneficiary engagement beyond simply being a recipient. What sets JWOC apart from other non-profits is the scholarship program; not only does JWOC offer university scholarship to deserving, financially-challenged Cambodian students, JWOC provides mentoring, training and real-life experiences via volunteering in and providing service to their communities. Witnessing the blossoming of JWOC scholarship students from years 1-4 through graduation is a joy; the student’s confidence and capacity grow exponentially. JWOC scholarship graduates are well-rounded and well-prepared to contribute to the well being of their families, community and country. For example, the first JWOC student I sponsored graduated from Build Bright University in Siem Reap, Cambodia and is now a public school teacher, tour guide and studying for her Masters degree in Education.

How I became more involved with JWOC

As an former sales and marketing executive and now as an executive coach, I enjoy travel and exploring cultures, so I arranged to volunteer with JWOC for a month in 2010 to provide life coaching to JWOC scholarship students, management training for JWOC staff and skills workshops for JWOC students. My initial month in Siem Reap with JWOC impressed me deeply. Since then I joined the JWOC Board, contributing as JWOC Board Chair and now as JWOC’s Executive Director. Using my ultra-running events as a catalyst, I enlisted the support of my generous friends and family and have sponsored additional JWOC scholars in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. Everyone in the JWOC family deeply inspires me; the friendships and relationships I have made enrich my life. I derive tremendous satisfaction from being part of such a committed team, including JWOC’s Board, staff, scholars, donors and global volunteers; I feel drawn to return each year to Siem Reap to volunteer at JWOC and witness JWOC’s continuing progress and positive impact.

My invitation to others

As the saying goes, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I thank every friend of JWOC for being a positive force for change in the world through their on-going financial support. I invite you to deepen your engagement with JWOC; there are so many ways to help. Contact either me or Alex Plummer, JWOC’s Managing Director; we’ll be delighted to exchange ideas.

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