Meet Samantha Larose…
Samantha is a volunteer from Canada who was working with the Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) as a Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist when the coronavirus became a global pandemic. Samantha was forced to return home in the middle of her assignment, but was fortunately able to continue and finalise her project from home. Samantha is now here to talk about her unique experience.
Hi, Sam! What’s the achievement you’re most proud of during your volunteer experience?
At the start of my project with AHC, the tasks and deliverables were not feasible. It also became clear that what they wanted me to do was not what they actually needed. As a result (and with guidance from Luisa) I revised the project plan and created process maps to help them better understand their systems. I am proud that I was able to successfully reshape the project and deliver something that I felt was more meaningful (and helpful) to AHC.
Do you think this volunteer experience help your future career?
Yes, in so many ways. Working in a new culture has sparked my interest in pursuing more international work. Also, I worked in my first Development/Communications team and I loved it. This has opened my current job search to opportunities in both development and communications. It also gave me the confidence to reshape projects to better suit the needs of a client.
What was the thing you enjoyed doing the most during your free time in Cambodia?
Exploring! Whether it was trying a new restaurant, visiting a new market or just cycling through a new area, there was always something new to see. And of course, the temples were incredible.
Did you experience any kind of problems during your time in Cambodia?
I experienced some problems during my stay, but they were all as to be expected. I felt pretty homesick a couple of weeks into my trip, but tried to take as much advice as possible on overcoming it (going to local events, trying a new swimming pool, etc.). Eventually I worked through the homesickness and settled in.
I ran into some problems at the start of my project. The scope was a bit too big and I felt the project plan was not meaningful to the organisation. Luisa helped me restrategise and it all worked out in the end.
The biggest problem was the pandemic. Obviously this was no one’s fault, but the decision to return home early and complete my work remotely was a very difficult one to make.
What would be your advice for future volunteers wanting to follow your example?
Be patient and connect with others.
The culture and the way business is done in Cambodia is very different. I had to learn to be patient and flexible as often things took a bit of time or were done very differently than back home (like sending my passport away for a new visa).
Push yourself to meet other people—other volunteers, expats, locals. Once I pushed myself to engage more with the community I felt safer, less homesick and had more fun. I’m a bit introverted so it was tough at first, but very necessary. Also, connect with previous/current Pdg volunteers. I was connected with one and she was so helpful leading up to my project, during and even after I got home.
If you’d like to have a unique experience while making a difference like Samantha did, contact Professionals doing good for more information at [email protected].
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