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Trip to Cambodia: Become The Change You Wish To See In The World

Just over three weeks ago, I had the incredible opportunity to go on an immersive two-week Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Design Summit in Cambodia, guided by experienced facilitators and learn with other university students from different parts of Australia. The two weeks I spent there flew by way too quickly!

Saying goodbye to the new friends I made, the EWB team, the incredible people I met, and families I stayed with was really difficult. On our final night, the EWB team organised a graduation dinner, and everyone was in tears before dinner had even started! Before this trip, I wasnโ€™t expecting to find or even build close friendships from this experience. So, travelling, exploring, and learning in a foreign country with like-minded people made this trip so much more special for me.

This design summit was jam-packed with really engaging workshops and activities. Before this trip, I expected that most of our time would be spent in a room learning about design through presentations. However, it turned out to be quite the opposite! Our schedule had culture and language workshops, design-thinking workshops, team-building activities, and museum visits!

One of my favourite activities organised by the EWB team was the scavenger hunt/ amazing race, where we were split into groups of 4 and explored Phnom Penh (Capital city) by tuk tuk (EWB covered all costs associated with planned activities and students were given the responsibility to manage funds that were handed out). We also got to practice our Khmer that we learned earlier in the week to bargain for an item we needed on our to-do list! Can confirm, that we did succeed in getting a discount! Every day, we were fed so well (like kings honestly) and had so much to share with our other teammates and facilitators about what we saw and learnt.

As the design summit progressed, climate conditions got more extreme. The daily average temperature was a breezy 36 degrees Celsius and 60% humidity. The trip did get tougher when we stayed on the island with the rural community. Living conditions changed drastically. However, we all made it through. Every day, we checked in on each other to make sure we were physically and mentally okay. During the hottest hours of the day, we were given time to relax, and we did just that in hammocks by the Mekong River! My group spent this time getting to know our facilitators! Hearing their life stories and careers has inspired me to want to explore more new things in my life!

To summarise this incredible experience, it would be to โ€˜become the change you wish to see in the worldโ€™. If I could turn back time, I would. Just to be able to experience this trip of a lifetime again.

Michelle Nguyen

Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) Hons Diploma of Professional Engineering Practice

Global Short Program Student (Faculty-Led)

New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant Recipient

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