Teens on the VISIONS Cambodia summer service program will experience a society that is in the state of rebuilding. High school students earn 80 service hours doing projects abroad including masonry, construction, and building school infrastructure. Teen volunteers will build additions to schools and lead classes for children at a summer camp that will soon benefit from those structures. While not working, you will be able to take in the beautiful war memorials, colorful food and art markets of Phnom Penh, and the ancient temples of Angkor Wat—one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Projects mix construction and social service with our partner organization, SALT Academy (Sports and Leadership Training). SALT runs youth soccer leagues throughout Cambodia, and takes a subset of exceptional teens and pre-teens in Battambang for more focused vocational training and education classes. We work with SALT’s “Mighty Girls” program to improve public soccer fields, bleachers and other infrastructure of this popular but spare local gathering place. VISIONS teen volunteers also help with SALT’s youth summer camp, getting to know the kids, teaching arts and crafts, playing games, and teaching basic English.
SALT Academy runs youth soccer leagues in Cambodia and uses recreation as a foundation for teaching important life skills. SALT also provides housing and educational support to teen girls in Battambang. SALT’s work has been recognized by the UN Under-Secretary General.
We interact continuously with Cambodian friends, from small children to college students, teachers and farmers to engineers, shopkeepers and craftspeople. You will get to know the “Mighty Girls” and summer camp students, our neighbors and project partners. We shop at local food markets and visit French-influenced cafés, learn Khmer-language basics, participate in artisan workshops, visit farms and rice paddies, and take bike rides in the countryside. You also will learn the history of Cambodia from people who lived through some of the horrors of war but now see hopeful futures for younger generations. Return home with friendships gained through shared work and fun.
"Traveling so far away from home really opened my eyes to new cultures and ways of living."
We take a weekend to explore Angkor Wat, one of the “Wonders of the World,” and spend another day visiting the main attractions of Phnom Penh. The Bamboo Railroad, bike riding along rice paddies, and a famous dance performance are among other favorites while in Cambodia. We visit a silkworm farm and learn to weave strands of silk, we make rice paper with rural farmers, stroll along the Mekong River, and take in the unique offerings of Cambodia on a daily basis.
A large house in one of Battambang’s central neighborhoods is where we call home during our time in Cambodia. We live together as a group, with ample space that includes a kitchen, showers and bathrooms, separate rooms for boys and girls, and beds provided for each person.
Service projects start after breakfast and end by mid-afternoon. We work five days per week, and you typically get to choose between three different worksites each day. Once a week, you will be on “homebase crew” with a few other participants and a leader. The crew helps to make meals, goes to colorful markets to buy food for the next meals, does laundry, and takes in a “day in the life of Battambang.”
After work there is time to get to know our surroundings and learn more about the culture. Whether playing games with local kids, attending a rice paper workshop, visiting local parks and outdoor markets, or simply chatting with neighbors on the patio, there are a lot of activities that fill our days. Weekends and a few other days are set aside for our exciting travel and excursions.
Meals are a blend of local cuisine and Western fare, with variety and abundance for everyone’s liking. We provide meat and vegetarian options, and healthy snacks are available through the day.
A few evenings a week, we have meetings to talk through the summer experience as a group. Other nights we’ll go to events in town, hang out as a group, or prepare for the next day’s projects.
VISIONS is not a teen tour with a day-to-day travel itinerary. Instead we settle in to our home base and are part of daily life at the program site. The itinerary provides highlights of some of our activities in Cambodia.