Jessie Brooks ( United Kingdom, AC, 2009-2011)
Less than three days until I fly out to The Kingdom of Cambodia. This is the first blog I’ve ever done, and it’s going to be very much a spew of thoughts as opposed to a well-thought-out monologue, but hopefully it will give people a good idea of what my United World Schools experience will be like. First, I guess I should say how I managed to get onto the project in the first place. Chris Howarth, the project’s leader, came to the United World College of the Atlantic early in my second year there. His talk was inspiring and a little forceful, but had its effect. A group of about ten of us displayed interest in going out and working on the project for our Gap Years, but only four of us (partly because of the British university fee changes – I won’t get started on that!) have managed to see the plan through ; myself, Vera form Mexico, Catherine from Switzerland and Ingvill from Norway. We all arrive in Cambodia around the 26th of September and will stay there, teaching in Chris Howarth’s schools until next March.
Preparations are stressful to say the least. I’ve finally pieced together parts of Cambodia’s modern history. I found an American documentary on Pol Pot the other day with the basic message that Communist dictatorship will always automatically morph into genocide – which I think is a bit of a woolly statement to make. Something that brought me back to my history studying days was the discovery that, yet again, Western powers can be very much blamed for the occurrence of the Cambodian genocide, or at least for the rise of the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge gained substantial support following the appointment of American backed General Lon Nol as Prime Minister during the time when the U.S. was illegitimately bombing Cambodia in order to wipe out North Vietnamese guerrillas. Just a little history lesson there… I love history!
Anyway, apart from looking at the history of Cambodia, I’ve also been poisoned with small doses of all sorts of fatal diseases. Part of me feels a little molly-coddled, considering how most of my suitcase is being taken up with first-aid stuffs. Having said that, I was doing a work shift today with a medicine student who has specialized in tropical diseases and there are apparently hundreds more jabs people should/could get, but many are almost completely ineffective. Even so, with the amount of money I have spent on jabs, anti-nausea tablets, rehydration mixture, malaria tablets, TCP and paracetamol, I’m going to be seriously annoyed if I manage to stay in Cambodia for the whole six months without getting at all injured or ill!
I had my last shift at the Beach Hut today, and have my last wedding function to waitress tomorrow. I feel a little like, in the process of making as much money as I can before I leave, I’ve forgotten to breathe. It’s all good though, because I’ve had no time to be nervous, I’m just stupidly excited!
-United Words team-