I started to miss the kids already a couple of days prior to my final day. I knew this was just a 2 week placement but still found myself growing attached to these beautiful souls. In such a short time we have grown to understand one another. Although we barely speak a common language, there is an underlying Universal Language.
I wasn’t sure about working with the 2-3 year olds at first. I was questioning if they really needed my help or what I could really do with children who are just learning their language much less English. At the end of my placement, I have no doubt I was exactly where I needed to be.
I had to dig deep to communicate with the children. I had to use a lot of unspoken language cues but mostly I had to lead with my heart, trying to intuitively communicate. I was placed in a situation that will leave a lasting imprint on me. Throughout my time, I noticed things like improvements in their creativity through coloring and motor skills through building blocks. They gained more knowledge on cleanliness and how to lather and use soap. And on the final day mastering the idea of a nappie.
But there was something deeper in all of this. I observed silently as these children took care of one another. I sat in awe as they tried to communicate with me and include me into their family. And by the end of my time we had created our own way of communicating thus learning that verbal communication, although helpful, sometimes isn’t the best or only way to get your point across, especially if you want to make a lasting impression.
I came to Cambodia to fulfill a dream of volunteering abroad. I came hoping to be hands on in making a difference for a country in need. Serendipitously, I was put in a situation that gave me just that. I can only hope that I did my best to make these kids life a little bit better. But what was a plan to serve has ironically turned into something that has given to me more than I could have expected. I will cherish my time at Joy Daycare Center and these kids will always hold a special place in my heart for they have helped me to learn how to give fully of myself, with or without words.