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¿Do you still have doubts about why i went to Cambodia to live the best experience of my life?
10 April, 2019
AM I DOING A VOLUNTEERING WITH A REAL IMPACT OR AM I BEING HARMFUL?
25 April, 2019

WHY CAMBODIA?. DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A TRAVELER, A TOURIST OR….A VOLUNTEER?

Cambodia? Where is that? Are you going to do Volunteering? And what is your reason for doing that? Are you going on your own? What is going on with you? These and many others, were the questions that my family and friends had for me about two years ago. And why only Cambodia?, where is that? It´s better if you do a touristic trip around Southeast Asia: Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, MyanMar. I simply told them: Well, I have made my decision, I am going to go to Cambodia but not as a tourist or traveler, I want to go with a different purpose than I normally have when I travel, I am going to be A VOLUNTEER, to which they responded: But why are you going to volunteer? Do you think you are Mother Teresa? Go and party, meet new people, visit tourist attractions, go to temples, museums, do plenty of crazy things, etc I just ignored what they told me, it is not so easy for some people to understand the magic and the real meaning of being a volunteer no matter the place in which you are doing it. I really did not care if they understood ...

And how did the Cambodia thing begin? Why did I decide to go there? Well,before I visited Asia, I traveled a lot through several countries in Europe and I lived in London for 8 months. I knew what it was like to arrive in a new place, getting to know the top tourist attractions, having friends from different parts of the world, getting lost, not having wi-fi, not having a clue of where i was, having to pay for penalty fees because I did not know that I had to validate the subway tickets, from eating super cheap to eating super expensive, finding hostels, hotels, AIRBNB, having to share a room with ten people, losing my passport and money. In short, countless experiences that made all my trips unforgettable. But the truth be told, after my trip to Europe, I wanted to do something completely different, I wanted to connect with the next place that I visited in a magical way, I wanted to live a true cultural immersion.

For my 2016 holidays I got the idea of ​​wanting to know a culture completely different from mine. Different in traditions, food, music, language and that was located many kilometers away from the American continent as well. I started looking which was the most recommended places in Asia to do a social volunteering.I saw options in China, India, Vietnam, Thailand but I remembered a program that I saw a few years ago. It was a Colombian documentary that spoke about the magical Kingdom of Cambodia https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7BF2FBDDD8B4472E

This documentary and others that I saw later, really made Cambodia draw my attention more and more. I was connected with that place and It was always on my mind. I had remembered how special and mysterious that country was to me. I was also touched by the firmness and resilience of the people. it was so impressive after the fact that it was only a few decades ago they experienced war. However what I remember the most, is that I was able to capture tenacity through the screen of my TV, the genuineness, the respect, the kindness, the empathy, the FORGIVENESS of those people who survived the genocide and for which the word ADMIRATION simply came to me. Something was calling me ... something was telling me I had a lesson to learn in that place ... and the truth, that falls short, was that Cambodia exceeded all my expectations exponentially. I fell completely in love with what that country gave me and even now, I have not finished giving back ... It will continue

With love: Catalina Echavarría Valencia. 2018

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