4 million people are visiting Siem Reap this year walking the ancient temples at Angkor Wat, buying souvenirs at hundreds of night market stalls, or putting their feet in large tanks of water where garra rufa fish nibble dead flesh off wriggling toes. Others seek or stumble upon more profound and life-changing experiences during quieter moments spending time with local Cambodians. Developing a greater understanding and appreciation of the struggle and opportunities now occurring this country as the Khmer people try and re-build their lives is both heart-breaking and inspiring.
Cornell students, CIPA (Cornell Institute for Public Affairs) graduate students Ben Garcia, Allison Urbanski, Zhou Fang and and undergraduate Kira West, are here for 12 days to achieve both an understanding of this dynamic while creating an experience or product that fulfills three goals. (1) generate revenue for EGBOK so it can be more financially sustainable (2) appeal to the tourist who will want to purchase whatever we decide to offer (3) convince leading hotels to promote the idea we’ve created. No small task. Below are the goals of the students
I am passionate to join SMART- EGBOK Mission project because of the three reasons as below. Firstly, I believe in the necessity of an NGO being sustainable via social enterprise model. I feel it is meaningful to help EGBOK Mission to find the best way to fund its program and further expand its impact to the community. I hope to utilize my marketing skills and critical thinking to make the final product concrete and doable, which could add value for EGBOK Mission. Also in a bigger picture, this project provides a snapshot of the NGOs operations here in Cambodia and how they deal with local issues with various ways. As a MPA student, I really want to see what the operations models on the ground are and I could learn from the field staffs. Last but not the least, the immersion of Cambodia culture is a must.
There are many things that attracted me to the SMART program, but the most powerful of them was the EGBOK Mission itself. After researching the nonprofit prior to my arrival in Cambodia and visiting the center while here, it is apparent how profound an impact the organization has on enhancing the opportunities for Cambodian teenagers who not only want to better their own lives but also the future of their country.
Additionally, I have always gravitated towards working with organizations that provide a humanitarian service. However, I possess little knowledge on the operational dynamics of organizational structures. While participating in this program, I hope to learn from my team and my interactions with hospitality professionals on how organizations operate and the best way for them to remain sustainable.
I hope to get a lot out of these two weeks in Cambodia. Personally I would really like to culturally expand my horizons and learn about the culture. I really want to try new things and see some of the amazing things Cambodia has to offer. Professionally I hope to gain a better understanding of market research methods as well as a better understanding of the intersection between Hotels and Non-profit organizations like EGBOK Mission. I would also like to continue expand my product development knowledge. For me the most important thing to do is to make a positive impact, I’d really like to help EGBOK Mission continue to do their awesome work!
There are three main reasons why I embarked on the EGBOK mission project. The first reason is that I wanted to experience a different culture. I had never traveled to Cambodia, much less the eastern hemisphere so I wanted this to be an opportunity to expand my horizons and become more open minded. The second reason I came to Cambodia was to gain a better understanding of poverty, and the factors that enhance it. By analyzing programs for low income communities and working with their beneficiaries, I hope to develop powerful and sustainable models to reduce poverty in the future. Finally, my last reason is because I really want to add value to EGBOK. I believe it is a great organization that is positively impacting the lives of many individuals, and anything I can do to expand their impact would result in a fulfilling experience.