Three seniors will return to their SST country, Cambodia, after graduationAlthough they’ve only been in the States for about a year, three seniors will return to their SST locations with the SALT, Serving And Learning Together, program.
Sara Klassen, Audrey Thill and Henry Stewart, all seniors, will travel back to Cambodia this coming fall, following their graduation. They will spend an entire year in the country.
Klassen is especially excited to be working in a position where she will be able to utilize the skills from her major.
“In my SALT assignment with Interfaith Cooperation Forum’s School of Peace, I will collect and edit stories of young leaders from conflict areas around southeastern Asia who are collaborating across religious and spiritual divides to form harmonious communities,” said Klassen.
As she explains on the Mennonite Central Committee, or MCC, informational page about her assignment, “I will also compile stories of peace practices that have arisen from indigenous spiritualties into a book.”
Thill also shared her plans on an MCC page. She said, “I am blessed with the opportunity to return and engage more deeply through a service assignment with Building Community Voices (BCV),” said Thill. “BCV is a Cambodian NGO, Non-governmental organization, that supports grassroots organizing on issues of human rights.”
Her role will lie in supporting the BCV staff as an Advocacy Program Assistant by “editing documents, developing and organizing grant proposals” and also writing about Cambodian social justice issues.
“I am so excited to walk alongside these dedicated people and learn from them about the nuances of building positive, sustainable peace,” said Thill.
Stewart, on the other hand, just accepted his position with an organization this week. He will teach English at the Royal University of Phnom Penh.
When asked if she was afraid of spending the next year abroad, Klassen responded, “I am healthy nervous.”
Neither Klassen nor Stewart knew about the possibility of working with MCC until Thill presented the idea to them.
“I spent time on Christmas break considering my plans for after graduation,” said Thill. “I looked into service options in the U.S. and abroad, and I spent a long time reading through the positions listed on the SALT website.”
Although Klassen, Stewart and Thill have previously spent time in Cambodia, their roles in both experiences will be very different.
“I anticipate gaining a greater understanding of how groups of people collaborate and advocate on their own behalf and how civil society plays a role in strengthening the overall fabric of society,” said Thill.
These three students said that they are anxious to make this yearlong journey to their old SST location. Thill said they could potentially be asked to stay for longer than a year.
“Sometimes host organizations ask a volunteer to stay beyond one year,” she said. “If that happens, I will certainly consider staying, but at this point, I cannot say for sure what the future holds.”