Doors 2 Cambodia
Category: 2. Community Groups and Special Populations
School: Triton High School
Rochester, MN, United States of America
3 students, ages 13, 15, and 17 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 15, 2007.
They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): This is our first year
Classes and Teachers: Lori Halverson-Wente, Kim Sin, Meghan, Naomi, and Jordan
Our School's Web Site:
1. Description of Our Team
Our team’s a hodge-podge of different personalities with different strengths, making for a great combination. While each member’s interests may vary, the one thing in common is our genuine ambition to assist Cambodia in any fashion. Whether building relations, building toilets, donating chalkboards, or learning the unique culture, our main goal is to build sustainability with local Cambodians to assist their needs. We joined forces on a service learning trip to Cambodia in December of 2006—since then—our primary goal has been promoting everything Cambodia: the welcoming culture, the human rights violations, the diplomatic relations, and the sustainability created.
Jordan, (13), is the youngest member of the team. While his age makes him sound young and naïve, his intelligence is highly established and able to answer almost any quizzical question. He is the brain of the group and would willingly challenge anyone, no matter the age, to any form of debate, especially if politics is involved.
Naomi, (15), is the life of the team. She’s a highly ambitious young woman with enthusiasm for promoting human rights. She developed a vision, making her dream become reality through her campaign, “One Toilet at a Time.” Inspired to keep young Cambodian women in school, Naomi formulated the project to raise money for toilets in Cambodian schools.
Meghan, (17), the project leader, plans to return to Cambodia next year and dreams of joining the Peace Corps. She was recently featured as the “unique teen” of her area due to her commitment to service to others. Meghan’s successful “project chalkboard” promoted education of rural Cambodian children.
Lori Halverson-Wente and Kim Sin mentored our project and also organized our trip of a lifetime. Each will return, hopefully with Meghan, Naomi and Jordan to Cambodia to follow through the project our Doors2Cambodia project initiated.
2. Summary of Our Project
Our project originated as a service learning class trip through Rochester Community and Technical College promoting “citizen diplomacy.” Through our trip, we learned much more than diplomacy. We saw many human’s rights violations; we saw an amazing culture in a daunting period just waiting to break through.
We each formulated a project supporting education to work on while in Cambodia. Naomi and Jordan funded toilets and wells with the $4,000 they raised, while Meghan funded and donated chalkboards to primary schools. While in Cambodia, we built local relations with a Non-Government Organization comprised of college students called Youth Service Cambodia. Together we unlocked doors of “citizen diplomacy” as we worked to accomplish joint service learning goals by traveling to primary schools, orphanages and villages.
Our projects support education and also advocated human rights. We traveled to the local garbage dump in Phnom Penh where families lived. Witnessing the tragic conditions was one of the worst feelings we experienced during the entire trip. Now that we’re home, our project is to educate everyone on the happenings of Cambodia. This is why we have continued with the Doors2Cambodia Project.
The inspiration of our trip led us to connect locally to become “citizen-ambassadors” from America to build sustainability with a developing country: Cambodia. After we personally saw the issues, our mission became advocating for our trip and the Khmer needs. We’ve made many presentations, talked with many politicians—Tim Waltz, Andy Welti, and Randy Demmer—to inform people that by working together and listening to each other, we can attain a goal to bring a devastated country from poverty to prosperity. We know our projects, such as building toilets and donating chalkboards, made only a small impact, but if we were able to change one person’s life, our goal was attained.
3. Our Computer and Internet Access
A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%
B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:more than 6
C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dial-up modem
D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:more than 6
E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):
Because we are all from different schools, it was hard sometimes to meet. Naomi and Meghan are Post-Secondary students at RCTC and also attend High School. Jordan is in Middle School. Technology was the key. We used RCTC's computer labs as a solution. Due to the adoption of our individual projects into the Travel Study Program, we were invited to use RCTC's server for posting materials. We are very thankful!
4. Problems We Had To Overcome
The major issue we had to overcome was the ticking issue of time. There wasn’t enough. We had many sources and many materials to use, but it was a matter of bringing it all together in an effective fashion to communicate the ideas we all felt passionate about. Sometimes we even had too much information that we had to narrow and cut many things out to make sure everything was relevant to the topic. We had so many sources, so many friends, and so many great things that we worked on that we were almost creating too much work for ourselves. We found many interviews with politicians gave many presentations to schools and churches, interviewed survivors from the Khmer Rouge, that we just couldn’t fit everything together in time.
We also had the major issue of distance – we all attend different school. Technology helped with distance; we used instant messages, cell phones, an e-folio site to post “rough draft materials” and email. Learning how to create the website was extremely difficult at times—one day we sat for 12 hours in front of a screen and only learned how to create tables since our initial knowledge was very basic—but we are amazed of what we learned! We learned Photoshop, PowerPoint, DreamWeaver, FinalCut, and You.Tube. Our experience helped us personalize the content and our great visions for the project helped focus on our strengths to complete our goal (and even learn about technology).
5. Our Project Sound Bite
Our participation in Doors to Diplomacy has allowed us to convey our messages of building relations on an individual to individual level with the Cambodian people to create long-term sustainability. We have effectively done so through our interviews with local politicians and the many presentations on our trip by continuously preaching to listen to needs, rather than enforcing them upon the Cambodian people.
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
Our project addressed that of human rights in Cambodia and expressed our views of working together on a diplomatic local basis to listen to the Khmer to understand how to help their country. By listening to the Khmer, we used intercultural communications to understand their culture, their needs, and what we could do to help them help themselves. The class we took during the project was called intercultural communications, so we completed the course requirements by working on our project with the Cambodians to build relations and sustainability. Through this project the value of listening was essential. There were times we were out of our comfort range, but the fact was, we were in a different country in a completely different way of life. By listening, we were able to learn the most beneficial way to make an impact. Once home, we did many presentations at schools, to professors and school cabinets, and also interviewed many politicians. Through the experience of sharing our trip with established professionals we learned that what you put into your education is what you get out of it. Since we were willing to spend many hours preparing for and presenting to share our experiences in Cambodia, we learned basic skills of comprehending our actions then interpreting how they impacted Cambodia and how we can use those actions as models for others. While the internet was an extremely beneficial tool in preparing us for Cambodia, nothing can beat the hands on experience we received through service learning. One can always read about the atrocities of third world countries, but to witness a country in distress is the most powerful form of education, and now that we have the experience, we would like to report them to everyone and anyone who is willing to listen.
1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?
We used a number of methods to create our project. Before the trip, to raise money, Meghan’s project was aired on the local station KROC, she worked with Keyclub, and she used e-mail to ask for donations. Naomi had an article in the Post-Bulletin about her campaign, she created posters, used the internet, and worked with her community, Dodge Center, to raise money. Once in Cambodia, the tool of experience, physically working to build relations with the Khmer and working in the dirt, was the most essential tool. We took many pictures once there and during the creation of this website. We were on the Cambodian Television Network that was broadcasted globally showing our work with the Cambodians. Once home, we still communicated through e-mail and telephone to maintain sustainability. We also made calls to interview the president of the YSC in Cambodia and the ambassador of Cambodia, while recording the conversation on a Mac laptop. We also did many presentations to the community, to Rochester Community and Technical College, to Triton school, to the John Marshall Keyclub, the Boys and Girls Club, Upward Bound, and we have been asked to present in several prestigious conferences. During those presentations, we used PowerPoint, projectors, videos we created from our documentation during the trip, photographs taken, items bought in Cambodia, and essays written. We also went to the State Capital and the Human Rights Center to interview experts on diplomacy and human rights, which was documented. While creating the website we used DreamWeaver, Flash, FinalCut, Photoshop, and you.tube to post our videos. Our most valuable tools were connections with friends who were willing to help provide us with knowledge—whether in Cambodia, learning about diplomacy, or during the creation of the website—without our friends help, our project would be a vision.
2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.
Our team acted as “ambassadors” on more than just the basis of our web. When we went to Cambodia we made connections with the non-profit organization Youth Service Cambodia. Through that connection we were able to represent America by modeling how two countries can work together. The YSC taught us of the Khmer culture through teamwork and experience and by listening we were able to bring a bit of Cambodia back to America through presentations and word of mouth. We have made many more contacts such as local politicians (Andy Welti, Tim Waltz, Randy Demmer), we touched base with our local communities, we affiliated with the monks from the Buddhist temple in Rochester, and we worked with orphanages and schools in Cambodia. Through our work, and the representation we brought home, we have been asked by multiple groups to work with them such as the University of MN Human Rights Resource Center. We have been working to promote service learning as well as human rights. The contacts we have made have shown a direct interest in our work. We have video of Congressman Tim Waltz and District Representative Andy Welti commending our work along with the director of the Human Rights Center at the University of Minnesota.
3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?
Through our work, we have shown that a small impact can make a huge difference in the lives of the people we worked with. Through our presentations, we have become models for other students, making it plausible for others to do work like ours. We worked very hard to fund our projects and when following through with our projects in Cambodia—getting the job done—we have shown that we are worthy candidates to build sustainability to better the country of Cambodia. Not only did we do work in Cambodia, but we are promoting this trip in our local community to show the effect building relations and listening can have on a country in hopes we can educate people on the pressing issue impressed upon the Khmer people: the issue of education, poverty, sanitation, and hunger. With the knowledge people can gain from our website, our personal testimonies, we hope they will be inspired as we have to communicate with the Khmer—or any country—to build relations to listen to one another eventually helping one another, working as a team to create a better world where all can are fully nourished, all have proper housing, all have proper education, and all are treated as individuals with fair rights.
4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?
To create our project we engaged with our local community to raise money to fund “One Toilet at a Time” and project chalkboard. We solicited donations from local churches, family members, businesses, the Buddhist Temple in Rochester, and organizations. We also partnered with the YSC, the Rochester International Association, Winona State University, and the Buddhist temple in Rochester to make our project possible. To give back to the community and to inform we gave presentations to Rochester Community and Technical College, John Marshall High school, and Triton High. During the making of our website, we received a great deal of help from Kim Sin who helped train and use the materials to create the website. Congressman Tim Waltz and Representatives Andy Welti and Randy Demmer, along with the president of the Youth Service Cambodia, Ran, helped us to gain a better understanding on the subject of diplomacy. We would like to send a special thanks to the politicians who kindly made time for our interviews, to the media service staff at RCTC, and to Kim Sin whose help was greatly needed and efficiently used.
5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)
This project led to the lifelong opportunity of working with others in Cambodia to create sustainability and progress in a developing country. Through the friends we made in Cambodia, we realized it is possible to come together to attain a vision. We realized it is possible to form diplomatic relations on an individual level to not only work together, but to teach one another to reveal culture, wisdom, truth, and beauty in humanity. Building individual relationships—learning to trust one another—became the common theme to making a true difference we learned through our service learning projects which was reiterated over and over again through the politicians who were gracious enough to donate their time to support our project. We learned the value and role education truly plays in our lives. The importance on current events, of being aware and educated on the lives of the people around us—not only in our community, but everywhere—from the deserts of Africa to the arctic Alaska, to the tropical Cambodia, everyone in this world is important. If we learn to listen to one another, to hear each other’s needs, this world can truly come together to form the ideal “world peace.”
View our CyberFair Project
(Project ID: 5047)