“My biggest takeaway was just seeing how diverse and big our world truly is.”


UBELONG Snapshot
Name: Steven Han
Age: 22
Hometown: Fox Point
Nationality: United States
Languages spoken: English, Chinese (fluent)
University: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Degree: Finance
Past travel experience: Moderate
Volunteer Abroad: Teaching English in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Duration: 2 weeks
Start month: January 2015
Claim to fame: This summer, after graduation and before starting a full-time job, will travel around the world for 8 weeks!

Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I have always enjoyed traveling to new places and meeting new people from all different backgrounds and cultures. Knowing that it was my last winter break of college, I wanted to do something different rather than just sitting around back home in Milwaukee in the cold Wisconsin winter. One day, my university, UW-Madison, randomly sent out an email about volunteering in Cambodia over winter break with fellow students and I figured why not experience the best of both worlds and travel over break while still giving my time to help others. With the generous help and support from my parents, I was able to go and I greatly enjoyed my experiences as a volunteer overseas in Cambodia!

What is your favorite memory?
I really loved working with all of the children every day. Seeing how genuinely happy and excited they were to see my fellow volunteers and I each day really put a smile on my face. It was also quite an experience to learn on the fly and literally write lesson plans hours and minutes before implementing them in the classroom. I can successfully say that in 2 weeks, with the help of my fellow volunteer Nick, we managed to teach a class of roughly forty 1st graders a wide range of new vocabulary words such as “marker” and “computer”!  Needless to say, outside of volunteering itself, I also greatly enjoyed meeting all of my fellow volunteers from around the world and getting to know them throughout the 3 week experience!

What did you take from the experience?
I think my biggest takeaway was just seeing how diverse and big our world truly is. I think that we are all extremely fortunate to live the lives that we have in the United States and developed world and that for many people around the world, they do not have access to such daily amenities such as clean water and laundry that we take for granted every day. It was also a really humbling experience to see how happy everyone was in Cambodia without material goods, especially the kids, and it really opened my eyes to the power of giving back and volunteering.

In a sentence or less, how would you describe local life?
Cheerful, smiling, energetic.

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Related post:
Meet Stephen Yi, from the University of Waterloo, who volunteered with UBELONG in Accra, Ghana, on the education projects.