After this initial volunteer experience, I was hooked. There is no better way to visit a country, meet the locals, and make a positive impact. Fast forward another few years and my girlfriend, Cortney, and I were in South East Asia looking for the same experience. Luckily, we found Trailblazer.
What did you like the most about the experience?
We loved meeting local people and understanding their culture. Getting to know the families, and being a part of their daily lives, really put everything we do into perspective. I know that is cliché, but it truly changes the way you experience your world.
Trailblazer in particular, proved the importance of the interaction between an organization and the people they are serving. The communities were so involved that it made the work that much easier and fulfilling. Seeing the direct impact to each family, in only a few days, was beyond our expectations.
Additionally, we experienced some amazing things that would not be accessible to most casual tourists. Catching fish in a rice canal and eating ant salsa with cucumber chips are not your average happy hour events.
Where do you live?
We’re originally from the Lone Star State (Texas), but we currently live in beautiful San Francisco, California.
Did your volunteer experience impact the work you do now? How?
We both work in advertising and design, which seems worlds away from installing water filters in Cambodia, but there are some very key parallels. Volunteering for organizations like Trailblazer, teaches you how to fully utilize your creativity and ingenuity. Things often don’t go as planned, and improvising on the fly is a valuable skill.
Also, I don’t take modern conveniences for granted; running water, the internet, and of course, delicious burritos.
The support that volunteers like Nick and Cortney provide Trailblazer Foundation is beyond our expectations too. While we count on volunteers, we cannot expect their help – simply because they are just that, volunteers. So, we thank you, Nick and Cortney, for your time and commitment to Trailblazer. It means the world to us.
With more and more villages in Cambodia requesting our services, we increasingly value the support we get from short term volunteers in Cambodia. In this capacity, you would be involved in one or more of the following activities:
- constructing and delivering biosand water filters
- supporting our organic test garden
- other activities, which our local staff identifies as needed
The work you will do is almost entirely manual labor that is done outdoors, and some tasks are more physically demanding than others. While these laborious activities are perhaps not the most glamorous work, it is important work and vital to Trailblazer Foundation fulfilling our mission.
If volunteering with Trailblazer sounds like a great opportunity, but you still have questions about the experience, we encourage you to read through our Introduction to Volunteer Opportunties With Trailblazer Foundation and Volunteer Protocols for more details.
If you are interested in a short term volunteer stint with Trailblazer in Cambodia, please contact Caitlin Plunkett, our Program Manager in Cambodia (email below). Provide the dates you are interested in volunteering, and any other details about your travel plans, lodging, and visit to Siem Reap that you think would be valuable. Caitlin will get back you to quickly, and hopefully we can schedule you to come and join us.
Caitlin Plunkett: firstname.lastname@example.org
A Volunteer Spotlight
Recently, Trailblazer’s Executive Director, Chris Coates, talked with Nick Munro, a volunteer who worked with our staff in Cambodia, about his experience. Here is that conversation:
What inspired you to volunteer with Trailblazer?
When I was in my early twenties and working at my first job, I got a bit restless and realized it might be a good time to see the world. Serendipity struck, and a college buddy asked if I would help him raise money to start a non-profit in South America. Three months later I quit my job, and was digging latrines in the remote mountains of Peru.
Nick and Cortney's Volunteer Experience, October 2015 (see below for more details).
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