“Be open-minded and proactive in your job and everyday life.”


UBELONG Snapshot
Name: Maria Cuomo
Age: 25
Hometown: Milan
Nationality: Italy
University: Universita Commerciale Luigi Bocconi
Degree: Economics and Social Sciences
Languages spoken: Italian, English (advanced), French (beginner), Chinese (beginner)
Past travel experience: Avid
Volunteer Abroad: Microfinance and Income Generation in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Duration: 7 weeks
Start month: September 2014
Claim to fame: Has already traveled to 4 continents!

Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I decided to become a UBELONG Volunteer to gain a work experience in the field and to learn about people and life in developing countries – I also had a particular interest in Cambodia’s recent history. I was looking for a demanding experience in order to better understand the real needs of local people that not often appear in our economic models, and to test myself.

What is your favorite memory?
I have lots of wonderful memories from my time in Cambodia: the jungle trekking, the dinners all together, the laughs at the movies, my learning at work, the first ride on the tuk tuk, the talks with local people at the Russian Market, the surprise for my birthday… It was an amazing trip shared with an incredible group of friends.

What advice would you tell a future volunteer?
I would suggest the future volunteers to be open-minded and proactive in their job and everyday life. I would recommend them to be flexible, to trust the local team (Sreng and Liam were great!), and to be aware of the jungle trekking before going!

In a sentence or less, best advice for fitting in with the local culture?
In order to fit in with the local culture, in Cambodia as everywhere else, my advice is to be deeply respectful, gentle, prepared and curious.

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Related post:
Meet Tuomas Vuorinen, a Aalto University School of Science and Technology grad, who volunteered with UBELONG at the microfinance and income generation project in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.