AT TAYLOR'S: Valarmathy Sarvanan (Valarmathy.Sarvanan@taylors.edu.my)
PROJECT PARTNER: Camps International (info@campsinternational.com)
Among Us was a community project organized by the students of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) of Taylor’s College Sri Hartamas. In partnership with the award-winning NGO, Camps International, the IB students undertook a project to assist in the sustainable development of Cambodian society. Since 2002, Camps International has been working to change lives in Africa, South America and throughout Asia. Through a network of 25 permanent camps, they are able to commit fully to projects to ensure lasting effects on the areas where they are located. Employing local residents and working in the poorest rural communities that would otherwise not benefit from tourism, their aim is to provide local communities with sustainable projects, reducing their dependence on foreign aid and giving them hope for the future.

The IB students at Taylor’s College - Sri Hartamas undertook to help one of these rural communities, Beng Mealea, a small village in northern Cambodia. From September 2012 to April 2013, the students raised funds to support the cost of their endeavour. A Chinese New Year Bake Sale and a Pie Day were a few among the many fundraising activities. On 27 April 27 the students embarked on a four day trip to Camp Beng Mealea to experience first-hand the work of helping these underprivileged people.
The project was a rich cultural learning experience. Project Manager Eleasha Chew states, “We even had a History and Culture team, which did an amazing job at familiarizing us with the culture by teaching us some basic Khmer, on top of carrying out activities such that we would know the do’s and don’ts of Cambodian culture.” Upon arriving to the campsite, they were further introduced to Cambodian culture through the blessing of a monk. They split up into four groups and were then tasked with four things: preparing food, repairing the school roof, planting mango trees, and cementing the floor of the planned library. A rotation schedule allowed each person to try each task. They then helped teach the local children through the use of fun games. When asked about the trip, Principal Lauren Wilson said, “The most memorable part of the trip for me was how proud I felt when I popped in to see our group of students helping out in the Primary School. They were doing such a good job tutoring the Cambodian students. For me this activity symbolized the intent of the entire trip; which was giving, giving, and giving.”
For the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) a service trip with organizations such as Camps International is an integral part of the curriculum. Those who would like to get involved in community outreach projects can contact the Sri Hartamas ECA or visit the Facebook page. For further information about Camps International, interested students can visit http://www.campsinternational.com/. A documentary about the trip created by the project’s Head of Photography, Rachel Quek Siew Yean, can be found by clicking here.