Molly Macgraw recently graduated from Oregon State University. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and Family Sciences with an option in Human Services. During her last year, Molly interned for Pathways to Development in Phnom Penh, Cambodia through IE3 Global Internships.
My experience in Cambodia took me places I could not have imagined before I left home. The richness of the culture, the friendliness of the people and the breathtaking landscapes of the country side left me itching with curiosity and wanting more.
Besides discovering the beauty and mysteries of the country, I learned who I am as a person at this point in my life. My experience forced me to learn, adapt and change in ways that in the moment were incredibly difficult. Cultural differences, different structural working systems, drastically different climates and language barriers caused me to reach inside myself and find a new gear. This new gear always consisted of patience and also allowed me to look at whatever situation I was in through a different lens and new perspective. Although these experiences were very difficult, these lessons and experiences are what I thrived on as an intern, traveler and as a person.
One of many experiences that I still hold very close to my heart is the relationship I was able to create with my host mother in the remote villages of Takeo (a small province south of Phnom Penh). She didn’t speak a word of English and had endured a very hard life so far. She was the sweetest, most positive woman whose huge smile gave me so much comfort. It amazed me how we could communicate so well through a simple touch on the shoulder, a hug, a smile or a wave.
Although the relationship I had with my village host mom was rare and one of a kind, I found myself surrounded by many meaningful, beautiful and genuine relationships by the end of my trip. This clearly speaks to how incredibly open and kind Cambodians are.
My time in Cambodia was wonderful, incredible, difficult, crazy, enlightening and a very worthwhile experience that is hard to put into words. My international internship in Cambodia will stay close to my heart for a lifetime.
This post originally appeared on the OSU Abroad blog