LMU Alternative Breaks Volunteer – Alexis

June 26, 2008

My name is Alexis Costales and I came to volunteer with JWOC along with 11 other Loyola Marymount students, staff and faculty. In a total of two weeks time I was fortunate to meet the crux of JWOC and see first hand what smart and genuine effort can produce. Three mornings were allotted for special projects. Richard Fox, a professor at LMU, and I were asked to conduct a survey in order to look at the school attendance of primary school age children(6-13) in two villages JWOC works in. I remember hearing about this opportunity prior to coming to Cambodia and immediately felt great interest in taking on the task. It was hard to estimate what the survey in Veal and Tropeangses villages would actually entail. Monday, May 19th, was our first day of administering the survey; we were to cover most if not all of Veal Village. Chhin Se, our translator for the first two mornings, was so important to not only the survey itself, but to Richard and I for his commitment and patience with the process. Also, I would like to thank Phay Narla for his help on the third and final morning in Tropeangses village. I have always argued and desired for the application of my studies to the work and volunteering I do in Los Angeles and past experiences abroad. This education survey was unique and the direct application of my academic studies. Looking back I see a rare instance when I felt completely of use to a group of people I formerly imaged as being beyond my help. I did not anticipate the amount of work needed as well as the importance the survey would have with me personally. I now have faces and stories that represent the primary education report. They are faces and stories of the families that motivated Richard and I from the beginning and will continue to motivate us to work for worthwhile, just and necessary projects for the betterment of others in the future. The findings of the report pointed out some of the serious problems and challenges facing the families in poorer villages in Siem Reap. I am grateful for the opportunity, but more importantly, I am proud and hopefully to have worked on such a ‘special’ project for JWOC and the community of Cambodians they seek to work for and be with.

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