A Summer Off the Beaten Path - Part II

by Nora Hansanugrum, MBA ‘13 (9/13/12)
Nora Hansanugrum, MBA ‘13

My off the beaten path adventure involved 4 weeks off the coast of South America, and 8 weeks in South East Asia—two very different regions of the world working on two very different projects.  This is about the second half of my summer working in Cambodia.



My off the beaten path adventure involved 4 weeks off the coast of South America, and 8 weeks in South East Asia—two very different regions of the world working on two very different projects.  This is about the second half of my summer working in Cambodia.
temple
Part II: June – August 2012
Program Management/Development, Intern
Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy Project
Organization: EGBOK Mission, International NGO
Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia

Through a connection I made at the Hotel Ezra Cornell (HEC) event, I stumbled across a small start-up NGO working in Cambodia, with a mission of using hospitality as a vehicle to alleviate poverty among young adults in the region. I attended a round table discussion with the CEO and the Development Director with the intent of simply learning more. One conversation eventually led to another, and within a week following the meet-and-greet, I found myself proposing an internship engagement to the organization.

Prior to my involvement, EGBOK Mission had never had an MBA intern, and had only one professional/graduate student volunteer who monkworked on a Marketing and Branding project with them. Being a newly established NGO, which only hired its first 4 employees in the past 12 months, there was a lot of room for me to learn and grow and vice versa. It was just the type of start-up environment I was looking for, providing me with the opportunity to get my hands and feet wet in development work. I accepted an offer to work with the team in Cambodia on a Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy focused on the creation of assessment methodologies and tools for EGBOK Mission’s various programs.

Living in Siem Reap, a town just 10-minutes from the famous Angkor Wat, was a new and pleasant experience. The 5 other volunteers and myself lived together in a volunteer house, about a 5-minute bike ride to the office. Due to the flexible nature of my project, I had the opportunity to participate in various activities outside of my immediate responsibilities, which offered me the chance to learn about the organization more holistically. I accompanied the Educational Director to various classes in the rural areas around Siem Reap, and also spent some time in Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh, visiting with an orphanage that EGBOK Mission partners with.

Beyond site visitations, I also committed to spending time outside of work with the students we served—it was important for me to get to know them, understand their backgrounds, and have a better contextual idea of their needs. My engagement with the students involved cooking demonstrations (utilizing my background in culinary arts), tutoring sessions (on hospitality concepts and English), and recreational activities such as bike rides through the temples and evening volleyball matches.

The time I spent completing my project during work hours, and the extracurricular time spent outside of work hours getting to know the students gave me a wonderful balance between profession and passion. The students I worked with shared amazing stories about their childhood, their struggles, and the complexities of their lives. Despite all of these challenges they faced growing up in a developing country with little resources, they still each had bright hopes for their future and approached life with drive and optimism I have not seen exhibited anywhere else. This aura was not only refreshing, but also inspiring to be around.

Nora with Students

Top: Tra Phrom Temple; Middle: A monk standing next to a giant tree root; Bottom: Myself, the program coordinator and the EGBOK Mission students

The first part of Nora's adventure can be found here.

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