James Burge – Projects Abroad

This summer I was fortunate enough to work with Projects Abroad and travel to Cambodia and participate in a public health program for a month. Cambodia, one of the poorest Asian countries, is underdeveloped compared to the rest of southeast Asia and many Cambodian people rarely, if ever, have access to a doctor or proper medicine. I spent two weeks in the country’s capitol, Phnom Penh. In Phnom Penh I spent most days traveling to some of the cities least funded schools and performed basic check ups on children aged 5 to 10. Most of these children came from farming families and many had wounds which had become or were becoming infected. A major component of the check ups was cleaning and disinfecting these wounds in an effort to mitigate the odds of amputation. My group always had professional doctors with us and we were therefore allowed to prescribe some medication as well as give children necessary vitamins to fight the all-too-present malnutrition many Cambodian children face. After we completed our medical work for the day we usually had time to interact and play with the children. My group also went to a rehabilitation center for HIV+ patients who often also had mental and/or physical disabilities. At the rehabilitation center we took blood pressure, checked heart rate, and tested the blood sugar of the patients. This experience was especially moving for me.

After spending two weeks in Phnom Penh, I travelled to a much more rural part of Cambodia in the province of Kampong Speu. In the Cambodian countryside I did more medical work in rural schools and slept at the house of a local family. The check up work in the schools was roughly the same as the work in Phnom Penh. Other than working in schools, my group would travel into areas so rural that children did not go to school and the families all worked on their farms. The children there did not attend school and thus we would go from house to house in small villages and perform checkups in yards and on porches in order to get to them. It was here that I felt like our work in Cambodia was most important. My trip to Cambodia taught me an unspeakable amount and I experienced so many things I had not encountered before.




Projects Abroad Cambodia Link:  https://www.projects-abroad.org/volunteer-destinations/volunteer-cambodia/high-school-specials/medicine-and-healthcare/public-health/

My Favorite Service Experience

This year I enjoyed volunteering at the Lunar New Year banquet. Most students who volunteered take Chinese at Friends, but I do not. This event allowed me to learn about the culture and this very important holiday. My job at the banquet was mainly putting temporary tattoos on small children, but I also learned some Chinese calligraphy, which was very interesting. Furthermore, I enjoyed eating the amazing Chinese food and learning a couple Chinese words and phrases.

James Burge Service Day Reflection

As a new ninth grader, I enjoyed working with the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative. I think I now fully understand  the mission  of this organization and I do believe in the idea of connecting adolescents to social issues. By not only introducing high schoolers to what may be unfamiliar social issues, but also giving them freedom to choose individual organizations which work against social issues that they are passionate about it is an effective way for high schoolers to become involveled.

I also enjoyed hearing about the ideas and organizations that other groups came up with and found. I was fortunate enough to be a judge during the final round, and being able to have a say in which wonderful organization won the grant was a great experience. Being able to listen to my peers present their passion in specific social issues was powerful and enabled me to learn about various social issues. Listening to the presentations made by other groups was my favorite part of service day.