Name: Amy Quinn
Nationality: United Kingdom
Languages spoken: English, French (intermediate)
University: University of St Andrews
Degree: International Relations
Past travel experience: Moderate
Volunteer Abroad: Strengthening NGO Capacity in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Duration: 4 weeks
Start month: February 2015
Claim to fame: Has previously volunteered in Romania and in the Philippines.
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG volunteer?
I was travelling around Asia as part of a University scholarship, and was looking for volunteer work within the community development sector. UBELONG stood out as being committed to supporting local, grassroots organisations, and having an excellent volunteer ethos of creating sustainable change.
What is your favourite memory?
My favourite memories are definitely from my work placement! I volunteered with an NGO which engaged and empowered young people in Phnom Penh with issues of sexual health and gender equality. One particular weekend stands out in my mind, when I attended a three day training session for young men aged 14-16 on the theme of gender and equality. This was my first time working solely with males on a topic related to gender, and it was so interesting to be a part of. I was so impressed with the student’s ability to challenge their initial assumptions about gender stereotypes, and their willingness to learn more about the topics. The high school was in the suburbs of the city, so each evening the sun would set as we made our way home by motorbike – the perfect end to a work day!
What were your major challenges?
One of the biggest challenges that I faced was the language barrier. Unfortunately my Khmer left a little to be desired, so I sometimes struggled to keep up in meetings and sessions where English wasn’t used. Luckily I had some amazing colleagues who helped me out and translated for me! One of the most important things I learnt was to speak up and ask for help when necessary, as all of the staff members were really willing to provide support and advice.
In a sentence or less, best advice for fitting in with the local culture?
Be patient, calm and open-minded, and you’ll be rewarded!