Siem Reap, Cambodia (PT I): Lesson #4- Life is given to us, so we must dedicate our lives to give to others

Here in Cambodia, it is not uncommon to see a family of 4 on a motorbike, or 5 adults crammed into the back of a sedan. You got 2 pigs and only a motorbike? No problem. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Here in Cambodia, when you wipe your lips on a tissue, it comes off red, not from lipstick, but from the red dirt road that gets kicked up into the air with every passing car.

Here in Cambodia, I pay $1 for my lunch and $0.75 for a beer.

Here in Cambodia, 80% of the people living in the village I volunteer at, don’t have enough to spend more than what I spend on lunch each day.

Here in Cambodia, my blessings in life became a source of inner guilt, whenever I saw the things or opportunities I had, that many people here do not.

Needless to say, I experienced culture shock for the very first time.

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The first week was a whirlwind, settling in and trying to get accustomed to the way people live here. It was hard not to let my own unnecessary guilt of being “well-off”, as well as my history lesson on the dark past of Cambodia and the existing problems, eat me up alive. You see, it was as if I suddenly became really small and insignificant, surrounded by an overwhelming ocean of unsolvable problems. On top of that, it was really hard to feel as though I had anything to contribute at the school I am volunteering at, since the teacher there spoke excellent English and I didn’t really feel like my presence would make much of a difference.

Those feelings are slowly subsiding. Although it lingers, I make an effort to remind myself of my personal outlook on life. That every small action makes a difference. That even just my smile makes a difference. I hope it does.

It doesn’t feel right to mix this heavy blogpost with a discussion of my adventures in Siem Reap,  so I will leave off with some touching words from the brilliant script of a local circus performance.

“Life has the immortality of love. Life is given to us, so we must dedicate our lives to give to others.”


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