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Giving Across the Continents
Article By: by Austin College
Posted: 2/20/2014 Views: 2679  Impressions: 13185
Categories: Education, Entertainment: Travel, Social Services: Social Issues

SHERMAN, TEXAS-Austin College history professor Dr. Jacqueline Moore and 10 students experienced a trip like no other when they traveled to Cambodia earlier this year. Students enrolled in the January Term course "Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia" explored the ancient history and the modern wonders of these countries at the crossroads of the world. But they learned of other realities as well. In researching the country before the trip, they discovered neighborhoods in Cambodia in which orphaned children live in terrible conditions and poverty.

The students also learned of the Cambodian Children's Fund, an organization dedicated to assisting Cambodian children, many of whom are living in squalid conditions, by providing medical services, education, and food-and realized the class participants had an real opportunity to help.

The awareness of the need and the agency that meets the need resulted in the Austin College students delivering a donation of more than $2,000 and various school supplies to the center during their visit.

"Researching the terrible conditions in the neighborhoods where these orphans came from gave the students a much clearer view of some of the problems contemporary Cambodians face," Moore said. "Thanks to outside donations like those raised by Austin College students and the work of volunteers and employees, the residents we met not only have escaped dangerous situations in which they were vulnerable, they have thrived against the odds."

In preparation for the course, students attended several meetings during which they considered the idea of fundraising for the Cambodian Children's Fund. Senior student Don Kelly mentioned the idea to his parents, who suggested a party to support the cause. Kelly worked with his fellow students to create flyers and invitations to advertise the party. At the event, he and his professor spoke about the cause-and received donations that the class was able to deliver to Cambodian Children's Fund staff.

Kelly said the trip to Cambodia changed his perspective. "Before going to Cambodia, I did research related to the plight of the Cambodian people, so I thought I knew what I was going to encounter," he said. "When we got there, it was very different, and that made it very personal." The trip allowed the students to forge a connection by telling stories and taking photos. "We were able to bring everything back to share with the donors," said Kelly.

Dr. Moore recognizes the importance of personal experience for the students. "Actually meeting the residents, some of whom have been at the orphanage almost half their lives, helped to bring home the true value of service for others," she said. "Seeing that they had similar goals to the Cambodian students, as well as common likes and dislikes, brought our JanTerm class closer to understanding both the innate privileges they have as Americans and the common ties across cultures that all people share."

Austin College is a leading national independent liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas. Founded in 1849, making it the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original charter and name, the College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA). Recognized nationally for academic excellence in the areas of international education, pre-professional training, and leadership studies, Austin College is one of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope's influential book Colleges That Change Lives.

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