Written by: Loke Ek Theng
Edited by: Victor Lee
14th Oct 2011, was another normal day for most people but not for the 23 people who have devoted their May holidays for the OCIP (Overseas Community Involvement Programme). It is on this day where our hall master Associate Professor Ho Yew Kee invites all participants of the OCIP, Resident Fellows (RF) and their family to his house for a great feast to celebrate the achievements of the team and to share their experiences. KEVII 4th OCIP (Cambodia) has officially come to a conclusion as we met up for our final debrief on 14th October 2011.
I was delighted to receive an email saying that there will be an OCIP debrief at hall master’s house on the 14th Oct at 7pm. Associate Professor Ho has always been known to be extremely generous when it comes to food and thus everyone who was invited has been looking forward to this day. True enough, prior to entering his house I could already smell the aroma wafting out from the kitchen. Pizzas, curry chicken, spaghetti, jelly, bean curd and many more were displayed neatly on the table with more being dished out from the kitchen. We had a good chat with one another as we feast on the spread of delicacies.
KEVII OCIP was set up by Associate Professor Ho in 2007 and has since given his full support. He has always believed in giving back to the society. This belief is shared by Professor Chong and Dr. Seow, who went for the OCIP 4 and 3 times respectively.
All of the participants agreed that it was a fulfilling learning journey with great shared experiences. It is extremely important for everyone to have a clear goal in mind and is thus committed to a similar purpose of helping those in need. Another key point to note is the importance of communication as the expectations of those receiving help, as we may not be clear about how we can help them and what they need help for. Thus, it is always good to clarify our doubts. Being versatile and adaptable are also crucial over there in Cambodia. As raised up by some of the members: “Change is the only constant. So don’t get frustrated when things don’t follow as planned. Always remember that if there’s a will, there’s a way”.
People in Cambodia made full use of resources and are eager to learn. One example was when I was talking to this 10 years old student. He said that he wakes up at 5am for school as he lived in a farm area which was very far from school. This made me reflect upon myself as I constantly grumble to my friends when I have to wake up at 8am for lesson, let alone 5am in the morning. I was embarrassed of myself when I heard this from the student as he walked passed me, eager to start his lesson…
During my stay there I came across a Cambodian volunteer who thought of applying for an ASEAN scholarship, in the hope that he can come to Singapore and learn. When asked what his ambition is, he replied without any hesitation that he wished to be a doctor or a politician in order to help his fellow countrymen. Another volunteer that I met replied that he wanted to become a civil engineer so that he can build houses for the poor. It was apparent that both of them want to gain knowledge to help their county, a stark contrast with many of the practical and money-minded Singaporeans today.
On this trip, I also learnt that happiness is very subjective. Although they even have problems maintaining three meals a day, they appreciate whatever they have and showed gratitude to even the simplest things in life. They were extremely friendly and were helpful to strangers even though they are not well-off.
I feel that for any OCIP or for any form of CIP for that matter, both the recipients and participants benefit tremendously. As participants of CIP, we cannot think of ourselves as the ‘giver’ or ‘better-off-individual’ but rather, someone who would like to partake in this mutual exchange and learning. I believe that all of us have become more compassionate, loving and caring after this OCIP, and I fervently hope that KEVII OCIP will become bigger and better in the near future.