AYWLD in Cambodia
The AYWLD program, coordinated by the Scranton Women’s Leadership Center in Korea, United Methodist Women and the Wesley Foundation, was held in Cambodia from February 7th to the 14th. Forty young women from Korea, Cambodia, Malaysia, The Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and Japan participated in this program. From Japan, there were two students and one staff member from the Wesley Foundation.
The main goals for this program were learning leadership skills as young Asian women, cultural exchange and spiritual growth. The most impressionable thing was how aware the young women from other Asian countries are about various global issues and how passionate they are about issues pertaining to women such as domestic violence and human trafficking. This was particularly inspiring for the Japanese students who, in comparison, don’t seem to have as much awareness for such global issues but made them want to learn more. One of the students from Japan said, “The most memorable session was about gender and sexuality. In Japan, I do not have any opportunity to talk about it with my friends because it is considered as a sensitive issue. Even we get the time to talk about it, we hesitate. I thought that every male and female should know about this issue because it is an important topic to discuss. I hope we can have more conversations about this back in my community and school.”
In addition to lectures and workshops, there were two main highlights of this program. The first was “Culture Night”. The participants wore traditional clothing from their country and shared something from their culture. The students from Japan wore yukatas and demonstrated “bon-odori”. This was an important way to learn about other cultures.
The second was visiting remote villages. The participants separated into three groups, visited different villages and held vacation bible study. Around one hundred children gathered and they played games and sang songs. Even though everyone spoke different languages, somehow their hearts connected and they were able to become friends. They also taught them about sanitary awareness, such as washing hands. The program also included delousing for the children. At first, the participants were hesitant about washing the children’s hair but through doing this, they learned a valuable lesson in leadership. As one of the participants reflected, “As it is said, “I am a person who rescues the oppressed”, that day we took action. I felt helping other people is challenging but also a joyful thing.”
Another exciting part of the program was a one day tour to Angkor Wat, a World Heritage Site. This was a very memorable experience for the participants. They were also able to go shopping and sample some of the local cuisine.
The participants were extremely grateful for this valuable opportunity.