Self Help Community Centre Cambodia

Fundraising Page

As many of you know, I spent two months in Cambodia. I have been raving about it ever since I got home. I have also been wanting to go back since the moment I got off the plane. In this post you will realize why I wanted to go back. I am going to describe a typical day at the school and why you should take the time to help this amazing school.

First a little background about the school. The Self Help Community Centre of Cambodia is located in Siem Reap. They provide free schooling to a little over 1,000 students. These students come to the school at all hours of the day to learn English. They receive one hour of english a day and they get to also learn life skills. Many of them go their to learn farming, business techniques, sport among many other activities. Those who help with the school and the students are the most genuine people I have ever met in my life.

Seeing their smile everyday was better than any pay check I could ever receive. Monday-Friday I would wake up around 7 am to get to school by 8:30 ish. My cousin and I would hop on our bicycles after our egg breakfast and take the 6 mile trip to the school. Rain or shine. Most of them time the latter and very hot. VERRRRY HOT. We would get to school and we would be greeted the countless smiles to see the Barang (foreigner in Khmer). From 9-11 we would both go to our designated classrooms and teach students English. You might be asking your self how could I teach English? Well, I was able to do it. We would be teaching the little kids the alphabet and simple words such as dog, zebra, or temple. For the older kids, we would be teaching them grammar lessons.

11 O’Clock meant getting ready for lunch. The YDC were the older students. They were the ages of 15 and older. We would hop on our bicycles and head down to the local market to get the ingredients for lunch. It normally consisted of pumpkin, rice, noodles, pork, soup, and lots of chili. Around 11:30 we would begin to cook and just talk with the students. Lunch was always a fun time as we learned new Khmer words and got to hang out the students. After lunch we would have a little break and nap in the hammocks. Oh were those the best times.

After lunch it was back to helping around the school. From 1-2 we would help out with their farming projects or helping them dig around the school and helping them rebuild their huts. These huts were used for the students to have somewhere to continue their studies and also for some of the students to sleep. From 2-4, we would teach more classes. After those classes we would normally leave and set back out on that 6 mile bike ride.

Seeing the children’s smiles every day, made each day an incredible day. They worked very hard to get where they are today. They spend countless hours studying for their state school which is their Khmer classes as well as their English classes. They YDC in particular attend state school every single day. Their day started much earlier than any day I had in Cambodia. When state school started back up in November, they would wake up at 4 am to prepare for the day. Those students who lived at school to help out would wake up and start preparing breakfast and lunch for around 15-20 students. School would start at 6. They go to school until 5 Pm. After that they come back to school to learn their English and to help out around the school. Normally, they don’t go to bed until around 11 O’clock and then do the same thing the next day.

These kids are simply being overworked, but it is needed if they want to succeed and graduate from state school. The tests are very hard and require lots of dedication. Most of you, who are reading this probably have bitched and moaned about waking up for 11 Am class and have no idea what these students go through. They are amazing kids who deserve only the best.

Recently, the school got funding to bring onto their staff State Certified teachers. This would allow the students to get state schooling right on their property. This would allow the students to get a break and start being able to live their lives again and not have such crazy hours. In order to do this, SHCC needs money to purchase more land behind their already existing grounds. This would allow them to build an additional three classrooms designated for state schooling. They are looking to raise around $30,000. It may seem like a lot but I am not asking to raise $30,000. I am asking you to check out my fundraising page and take the time to watch the video about the school and donate some money. Your money will help create someones future and for them to fulfill their dream. I have over 1,000 friends on facebook and I’m sure my message won’t get out to all of you but if it somehow does, if you donate 1$ each, you’re money will go a long way I promise. I can promise you that the money is going to a good cause. I can vouch for every single person at the school.

I hope you see the good in what you can bring to these students and just donate a little bit. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me.

I can’t express my gratitude enough to those who donate and any of those who would like to but simply can’t afford it at this time. I understand if you can’t give money now but please help spread the word to all of your friends.

Thank you,

Jeffrey Rebackoff

New Years

As the days grow closer to the New Year one might begin to ponder on the past. Looking back into their bank of memories. Graduating college, a promotion they received, an old girlfriend or any other significant memories they might recall. 2014. The world was suppose to end multiple times before this but we’re still here. We’re that close to 2015. It will be a year of new beginnings and resolutions. Who knows if we will even stick to them this year? The gyms will be packed with people pledging to lose weight. Nicotine patches will be bought in bulks as smokers swear to quit smoking. People are looking for a new start. Facebook statuses will be flooded about new beginnings and a new chapter in their life.

For me 2014 was another year for the books. I learned more about my self and went on great adventures. I explored new territories that had mysteries around every corner. I’ve also met incredible people. It was also nice to reunite with past friends. We meet new people all the time but some of them have major impacts on our lives. I myself would like to think I helped transform people’s lives. I know certain people have had a major effect on me. Or is it affect. Hell I don’t know. 2014 was also a year of milestones. I became the 3rd person in my immediate family to graduate college. Maybe not with the greatest grades but I did it. I visited four countries. I received a promotion at Camp. It’s been quite amazing year. If I didn’t already have 2012 tattooed on my foot, I’d probably get 2014 tattooed.

These memories would not be complete without the people that surrounded me. A big shout out goes to my old roommate Maff. You prick. Here ya go. The guy that’s always right and to those who know him… It’s his world, we’re just livin’ it right. Ammmmmmm I right Johnny? DFT

As most of you know, I work at a summer camp. Deciding to work there was one of the best decisions I ever made. I made so many great friends through camp that I consider family. We all built a strong relationship that was rock solid. A lot of it was because of our overnights where we would talk about ummmmm books and of course Camp.

Here is to 2014. Another fantastic year filled with great memories. Thank you to everyone who was part of it and hopefully another grand year in 2015. Everyone have a happy, safe and healthy New Year.

A Jeremy Diggs Production

During my senior year of college I decided to take a creative writing class. One of the stories that we were required to write was a profile piece. I decided to write it on my good friend Jeremy Diggs. He was one of my first friends at camp and I consider him a good friend to this day. He is one of a kind. He will make you laugh anytime of the day. Anybody that knows him, knows how amazing of a guy he is. Here is my profile piece on him. Check out his soundcloud to listen to some quality music. Jeremy Diggs SoundCloud

From the years 2005-2009 Jeremy Diggs would sit in a 6×6 office with his music

teacher Dr. Richard Carr. It was there that Diggs began learning Carr’s signature style of

music, and started writing music of his own. Like most people who begin a new hobby,

Diggs was not perfect at writing music. Diggs would rewrite his music countless times

until he and his teacher both agreed that the piece was perfect. This was the beginning

of Diggs’ career as a composer, which he still practices today. Although Diggs love to

compose his true passion is live performances.

Diggs, 23, a native New Yorker who now lives in Wixom, Michigan has become

a truly multi-talented artist. Today, Diggs composes, produces and performs music on

a daily basis. While Diggs loves composing and producing, being on stage is where he

feels most at home.

“The feeling of being on stage in front of people is both un-explainable an intoxicating,” Diggs said, “There truly isn’t a greater high then feeling a crowd literally consume your passion.

Diggs’ music brings a sense of bliss to his audiences.

Diggs’ love of music is what makes it so electrifying. Not only figuratively but also

literally as he plays a Fender FV3, which is his electric violin. He puts on thrilling shows

at an upstate New York camp where he has been working for the past five years.

Kyle Sherman, 24, of Tallahassee who works with Diggs in producing music

praises and admires what Diggs produces.

“As a producer myself, I love picking his brain because he’s so full of information when it comes to music,” Sherman Said. “He is one of the biggest reasons why I ever got into music myself.”

Diggs future goals consist of writing scores for major motion pictures as well as

playing in a band with like-minded musicians. He plans to travel the world and give his

gift to everyone he encounters along the way. Ultimately he would like to own a store

and sell instruments and teach those who need the practice as Dr. Carr taught him early

Christian Reid a long time friend and co-producer with Diggs describes Diggs’

strive for perfection. “He isn’t the easiest to work with, but he is very particular and one of the biggest perfectionist I know.”Reid said.

Diggs has come a long way from sitting in that 6×6 office with Dr. Carr. He is

now a teacher among many who ask his advice on their music Career.

We’ve got the whole world in our hands

What is the first thing you look at when you wake up? Is it a significant other? An alarm clock, the ceiling? I bet most of you would answer your iPhone/android. We all have our morning routine. Wake up. Look at phone and check notifications. Then go through our social media rundown. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, reddit, back to Twitter. It’s bad. Real bad. How about when you go to bed? What is the last thing you look at?? Same options as above. It’s probably your phone again.

These powerful cell phones have evolved since the days of the elite Nokia phones that possessed the greatest game ever made. Snake. You could play that game for hours. Sneaking it under my desk in middle school trying not to get caught. Taking my moms purple Nokia just to play snake. This obsession with phones started a while back. At least for me.

I got my first cell phone around the age of 13. It was awesome. Being able to contact friends and not having to deal with a parent picking up the other side of the phone and listening in on your 6th grade romance conversations. Or your plans to go TP a house later that night. For the most part we had phones to see when we were all going to meet at the mall to loiter around for hours upon hours.

An iPhone. Where to begin. It was the phone that revolutionized phones. It gave us everything that we could ever need in the palm of our hand. It basically became an appendage to our body. Rarely will you see someone with out there phone when they’re out. You can almost guarantee when we’re home that our phones are with in arm lengths of us. Waiting for a text/call from that certain someone or the hundreds of group text notifications after a mere 20 minutes. Could you imagine going to the bathroom without your phone? That would be the most boring shit ever.

They keep us “busy”. I know I don’t use my phone for anything that important. I don’t have much to hide but you better believe I’m watching you like a hawk when I lend you my phone. We guard our phones as if we have the nuclear code on them. There is no way this epidemic will dissipate over the years. Technology is only getting better making these phones more and more powerful.

I know that I am part of the problem. You’ll never see me with out a phone. I try not to take it out during dinner but it happens on occasion. If you want to eliminate phones at dinner so you and your family and or friends will actually talk to each other? Have everyone put their phones in a pile stacked up on each other face down. First person to check their phone picks up the bill.

What will it take to stop people looking at their phones? Why is it the first thing we look at in the morning and the last thing we look at before sleep?

Hopefully soon I can pick up the habit similar to my dad. Reading before bed and putting away the phone and forgetting about it. If someone really needs to get in contact with you, they will find a way.

Just a piece of my mind. You may very well disagree with everything and I will gladly hear your side.


One week in Bangkok

GrandMountThe smog was thick and the humidity at 100%. It hit you like a ton of bricks as you walked off the 14 hour bus ride from Koh Chang to Bangkok. A comfortable bus none the less but a long journey.  Sweating was inevitable. Carrying around 50 pounds of baggage in search for a tuk-tuk. They were everywhere. Picture an old VW van cut down in half with a carriage on the back to hold the passengers. Three wheels whizzing around the city ignoring all traffic rules. Welcome to the mayhem.

Not realizing where my cousin and I booked our hotel, we soon found out upon exploring. Thailand’s red light district. Sounds good. Sounds like lots of fun. Hey there will be lots of bars and girls. Yeah that’s what you would think. After coming from a naive Cambodia where everyone is very conservative and they cover up their bodies. Relationships aren’t shoved in your face and everyone was very kind. As soon as we enter the market, we realize the vibe that is around us. You feel the scammers lurking around every corner trying to get money from the thousands of tourists walking around. Being in a new environment, your eyes go wild. I’m looking at everything, taking it all in. The Supper Pussy bar right in front of me.

This scenery consisted of vendors selling everything from machetes, lighters, football jerseys (aka soccer), glasses and basically anything else possible. All at a reasonably low price, if you can haggle your way down to that price. Walk a little bit farther down and you reach Pathong street. Welcome to all the go-go bars, strib clubs, and of course “Ping Pong Shows”. What do you think a ping pong show is? A couple girls playing beer pong, or a friendly match of ping pong? Nope you’re wrong. Broaden your horizons a little bit more and then there you go. Everyone you encounter is whispering “Ping Pong Show, Ping Pong Show. Come and watch a ping pong show.” Curiosity killed the cat. Big time  You couldn’t escape it. They were all over. Along with the beautiful girls there were lady boys. You hear about the lady boys of Thailand but once you get there it’s normal. They are all over. Hell you can barely tell on some if they are or not.

So back to curiosity killing the cat. We get suckered into these “great” ping pong shows. 100 baht per drink and that’s all that we’ll pay they say. They say just one drink and we can go. Yeah that was out the window. There are a couple girls “dancing” on stage. Actually, I wouldn’t say dancing. They were kind of just standing there. A group of people came up with us. The show started and once again I’m not sure if it was considered a show. Instead of the ping pong show we got the banana show. Yeah a banana show. Long story short, after the “show” the lady comes up to us demanding 3,800 baht. A little over 100 dollars. I was in shock. After a bit of arguing we make it out of there. Mentally scared. But that is besides the point.

Other than that crazy experience, Thailand was a great place to be. A little more expensive than Cambodia but still a great place. Street food is a must. Luckily I never got sick but the food is great. Holy shit it is spicy. Be careful with the spice. Never ask for things hot. You have been warned.

I met some great people in Thailand as well. I met two couchsurfers who opened up their homes to me and allowed me to stay there after a day of meeting me. Truly kind people who helped make my trip more special. Thank you to those people who welcomed me with open arms. I will be forever thankful.

It is a city that is filled with tourist and locals. You will be reminded every couple blocks of the King of Thailand. They have statues and tributes to him all around the city. Could you imagine pictures and statues of Obama all around the nation? I did see a couple movies while I was there and before each movie the audience is required to stand up during a tribute to the King. Certainly a culture shock.

I hope you have made it this far down because this part is important. If you go to Thailand, please do not ride a Elephant. Most people go there for the elephant rides. It is a horrible business that needs to be shut down. While driving around Koh Chang, I saw a elephant trekking company. It was awesome to see these mammoth creatures. Ones that could certainly kill us with a quick kick and a stomp. These elephants though are afraid of people. How is that possible? We should be terrified of them. These animals are beaten and chained to train them. It is a horrible scene to see. You can see the depression in their eyes as they wallow around. With a 10 feet chain connected to their leg, limiting the mobility. This is not how these animals should be treated. They should be roaming around the jungle. Never fun ending on a bad note but yes please do research before riding any elephants in Thailand.

Thanks for reading =)



Not many people might know this about me, but I am an emotional, sentimental person. I might not show it but in times I can get pretty deep. This is one of those moments.

Parents- to act as a mother or father to someone. A simple definition for an impossible role. No one can know what type of parent one will be. You can take all the parenting courses you want, read all the books you want but who knows if that will do anything. I have no experience is this department. I have worked at a summer camp for four years and acted like a “parent” to these children but how can we actually compare to their or our actual parents.

Mamma and Dada, most babies first words. I’m sure when we say these magical words, our parents weep of joy and go running for the nearest camera to record and post this milestone to Facebook collecting likes upon likes. They want to share with the world what their baby has just done. I know if my mom had an Iphone 6 when I was born she would be ringing CNN trying to get me on the news. Our parents will do anything for us from the moment that we are born. They are there to protect us, nurture us and to make sure we are healthy. They provide us with our morals and ethics. They guide us down the right path even if that path might lead to nowhere… well we think it leads to nowhere because clearly as teenagers we know way more than they do.

This is exactly what my parents allowed me to do. They allowed me to explore. They allowed me to find out who I was. They provided me with shelter, food, and a loving family for as long as I can remember. They have given me everything. There are no words that I could say to thank my parents for everything that they have done. They have helped me finance college, my traveling, my drinking habits. Hopefully drinking is cheaper by the time I have a kid.

My dad has provided me insight on how to be successful in life. He has provided me with advice whether I have listened or not it is somewhere in the back of my brain waiting to be used. He showed me how to be assertive and an asshole at times. Hey thanks dad. Above all my dad has taught me how to be a better person. How to take the high road. I have proved him wrong before but he has proven me wrong plenty more times. As much as I hate to admit it. Hey dad, if you’re reading this. Thank you. Also I am sure you will find all my grammatical errors

Not really sure where to start with my mom. She has been there whenever I needed for 23 years. When I would get in fights with my dad, she was always on my side. Some may call me a mammas boy. I’ll always be a Mammas boy and I have no shame in admitting that. I still call my mom mommy, because I can. Still no shame. She has done everything for me and I will be forever grateful for her helping in life. Hey mom, if you’re reading this, don’t cry because I know how you get.

So yeah go out and respect your parents. They have done literally everything for us to be here. I know that might not go everyone and I am throwing the word everyone very loosely but hopefully the picture is clear. End your phone calls with I love You and just be nice.

The greatest parents ever.

The greatest parents ever.


Life… gets ya everytime

I have been going back and forth to post something about myself. Not just a little blurb about my self but my some of my story. Everyone has a story. Everyone has baggage that weighs them down. Whatever I write, I’m not looking for sympathy or anything along those lines. I would just like to share part of my story.

I was born in Peekskill, New York,where I lived a short five years. My dad received noticed of a job in St. Louis, MO, where I would spend the next ten years of my life. I’m sure my reaction at that point was ” Ohhhhh cooool. Were leaving New York. Where is my bottle?” Something like that. I don’t have many memories from my early childhood. I see pictures and all I can think of is… where did that fantastic hair go and why do I have such Jewy hair now? I lived in St.Louis for ten years like I said before where I established good friendships well at least that’s what I thought but before leaving St. Louis for Florida I found that it was very easy to leave that lifestyle.

Florida was just a mistake of a place. It was a shitty place to live. It’s so damn hot there and the schooling was subpar. I met some good people there but rarely do I speak to anyone from that school. Who knows if they even remember me. We’re “Friends” on Facebook but does that really mean anything these days? After realizing how shitty Florida was my parents decided to get up and move back to New York. Back to our New York roots. Good ol’ Westchester. After a few weeks, I thought that I could get use to it here. I was the “new kid” at school. I showed up with about a month or two left to go in my Junior year. Everyone was so interested in me but that only lasted till the Summer then everyone went back to their lifestyle and I was left out. Oh well. I moved on. A critical point in my life some may say but looking back it doesn’t seem to critical to me. I made “friends” again but after high school it was time to move on and those “friends” just became more “friends” on Facebook. I have way to many “friends” on Facebook. I should probably go and delete some. No one has over 1,000 friends. If you do then congrats to you.

I am not a shy person. Ask anyone. I like to be alone at times. We need time alone to think and recollect everything. I’m use to being alone. Since being stuck in New York for the time being, I don’t talk to anyone from high school and I find it hard to just go out for drinks and incorporate my self into a group of people who have known each other forever. Hence why I love traveling so much. I need something new. I need new scenery, I need new people. Many people might hate change but it is something that I live for. I love change. I love being thrown into weird situations and trying to find the right route or getting lost and embracing life around me.

I get attached very quickly. What a poor trait. It has caused many heartbreaks. But I am only twenty-two so why fuss over it. Everyone will say just move on it’s the right thing to do but it’s not as easy as it sounds. I use to be that really annoying guy that girls would hate getting texts from. Would I have admitted this then… Never. But now that I look back on it, how could I have done that for so long. What an annoying prick I was. To some people I probably still am but at least I embrace being that annoying prick.

As you have seen from my previous blog posts, I love traveling. It has become part of my life. It will be something that takes over the rest of my life. My life will be planned out on my next trip. I like to move around and once I get bored of a place, I want to just get up and move.

If you have made it this far… Congrats. I’m sure it will only be a few people but as long as it’s one person. I probably told to much about myself. I felt myself rambling but I don’t really care. If you did make it all the way through that ramble of bullshit then share what you think. Write down a bunch of bullshit. Doesn’t matter to me.

Friends, Friends, Friends, we will always be….

An open letter to all my friends,

Hello everyone, Jeff here. I would like to start off by saying thank you. Everyone that I have met in my life, has had an impact on me in a way. Whether it be small or big. I have met people from around the world; Cambodia, Norway, Ireland, England, USA, Germany and I couldn’t be more grateful. We might have talked for 10 minutes or we might talk everyday. I am very happy to have you all in my life. Some of you have been an inspiration to me and some may not have been. You might be a big part of my life or a smaller part. We could be really good friends or you might hate my guts. I prefer the former. But none the less you are all my friends. If you know me well, you know I am good guy, at least I try to be. No one is perfect ya know. Everyone has their ups and downs. I like to think I am a good friend but hey you might think different.

Thanks to camp, I’ve had the privilege to meet heaps of new people who I consider my best friends. Meeting these amazing people gave me the chance to travel the world and come to England. On Friday I will get to see lots of you and I couldn’t be any happier. It’s going to be a fucking awesome time.

I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Let’s face it, friends make life a lot more fun.

Charles R. Swindoll

You all are amazing people and If there is one thing that I could tell anyone that is reading this. Go follow your dreams. Everyone is told this all of their life but seriously go do it. Go do something you love, because when you do it your life will never be the same.

If we haven’t spoken in a long time, then let’s talk. Let’s talk about anything. Life’s to short to hold grudges against people. Just enjoy each other’s company and smile.


Traveling has become a major part of my life in the past four years. It all started with my birthright to Israel. It was the beginning of the end for me. Like tattoos, traveling is an addictive feeling. When you’re on the plane you can feel the sense of mystery that lies in front of you. The sense of adventure excites me like never before. Traveling does wonders for someone if they go into it with the right mindset. A good head on your shoulders is a must. You can not go into a new culture and country with a closed mind. You will not get the most out of your travels. Look at traveling as a journey to expand your horizon and give you a new perception of the world. Try and learn as much as possible.

1. An open mind

When embarking on a new journey, whether it’s to a new city within your country or a completely new country on the other side of this magnificent world you need to have an open mind. Do research on the place that you’re going to but not that much. Learn what to do and not what to do but it’s best to go there with no type of prejudice towards the place. Let everything happen to you. Make sure you plan out your trip but don’t go to the length of planning every second of it. It’s not going to work out. There will be traffic, of you’ll meet someone who will want to bring you somewhere else. Just go with the flow and allow things to happen and unfold. It’s more exciting that way. I read recently that you can go to the most beautiful places in the world but it’s not the sights that make the experience and the memories, but the people that you are with. Meet the locals, they are the ones who know the area. You might feel like you are nowhere but to them your nowhere is there everywhere. They live off the land and they know every nook and cranny. They will make your travel experience that much better and you’ll learn something along the way.

2. Make sure you have a lazy day

If you are traveling for a long period of time like I have been doing, a lazy day is a good day. Not everyday has to be filled with traveling around and sight seeing. Take a day to your self and relax. Get back in the right mindset. If you only have a couple days in a place this might not apply to you but make sure you relax. You can do much more relaxed then stressed trying to fill up a day.

3. Go off the beaten path

Going sightseeing is lots of fun. You might have the chance to see the Eiffel Tower, the pyramids, Angkor wat, or any other major landmarks. They are beautiful, there is a reason millions of people visit these great monuments every year. But there is also a lot to see in some of these cities. Ask the locals what might not be as popular. You are sure to see some wonders that are not populated by tourist trying to get the best picture. I did this while in Cambodia once I got my hands on a motor bike. My cousin and I took a trip out to a temple where only locals would know where it is. When we arrived we had the whole place to our selves. We were able to appreciate the true beauty of the ancient ruins. No tourists around just trying to take pictures to prove they were somewhere. Trust me…. It will be worth it.

There are a lot more tips but now I can’t think of much as I can’t stop by reminisce on my amazing journey. I will make sure to edit in any that I can think of along the way.

Above all, enjoy your travels. Not everything will always go your way. Just enjoy as much as you can while you can because before you know it, it will be time to go home and back to reality. This Is all starting to hit me now as I have only one day left in Bangkok before I head to England for one week to visit my camp friends. But on December 6 when I am flying home, I know I will be thinking of everything I wish I did and how I could have made my trip better.


Safe travels to everyone and thank you for reading.

Cambodia and Volunteering

To be honest I am not completely sure what this blog will be about. My friend Warren Hall has inspired me to make a blog and start writing. I have always enjoyed writing and I am sure that there will be mistakes but oh well.

My first post is going to be about my travels around Cambodia.

On September 11, 2014 I embarked on a journey of a lifetime. I had no idea what to expect. As one of my many tattoos says “expectations create frustration”. I try to go into situations with out any expectations and with an open mind. It was a long journey getting to Siem Reap, Cambodia. It was a thirty-six hour trip with a 10 hour layover in Singapore. That is where it all started. Getting off the plane in a completely different culture was a shock to the system. I have traveled before but only to parts of Europe, a culture shock but not like the one I was about to get my self into. Taking the train into the city being the one that everyone looks at was very different. A feeling I would get use to very quickly. Singapore was nice but not for me. It’s very expensive and just wasn’t for me. It was time to board the plane again and head to Cambodia. A moment I have been waiting for since May.

Stepping off the plane into the hot, humid weather (for anyone who has heard me say Humid knows that I can’t say it so yeah go ahead and laugh at me) I quickly realize that I have overpacked after picking up my luggage. We get on a tuk-tuk to take us to our villa. Yes I said a villa. For my two months in Cambodia we would be staying at the beautiful V and A villa for a total of……… 12 dollars a night. I forgot to mention as well that I traveled with my cousin who made a great traveling companion.

We didn’t just travel to Cambodia for vacation either. We found a non for profit school to volunteer at. We taught English and helped with community projects. A truly life changing experience. Some of you know who know me might be saying ” how is jeff going to teach English when he can barely speak it himself?” But hey I did it. One of my favorite moments of being in Cambodia was teaching my class from 10-11. A class of 27 ambitious 13 year olds eager to learn English. They made me smile everyday as they thought me Khmer and I taught them English.

I was teaching them basic grammar like what’s your name? And how are you? It was test time after a couple weeks and 25/27 students passed the test. Truly a special moment.

I knew going into this adventure that these kids would teach me more about life than I could ever teach them. They were the happiest people who I have ever met. They live in a local village and it’s not that they have nothing but to standards of the western culture you might say they do. Each day everybody in the village goes out to the market for each meal. There are no leftovers that get stored because the dogs and cats get those. A normal meal consisted of rice, noodles, some type of soup with meat or fish and yeah…. You guessed it, more rice. They love their rice here. Food would be set in the he middle of a circle and everyone had their own bowl of rice and we would pick at the food from the bowl in the middle. It was joined by continuous laughter of me trying to pronounce the crazy confusing Khmer language.

Although we were there primarily for the students, there was defiantly a party scene. Beer gardens with beer towers costing a mere 4 dollars. Oh yeah they also took us currency, which made life much easier. We quickly became friends with the locals who gave us the full Cambodian experience. They brought us to the night clubs filled with tourist looking for a good time that would party till 4 am. Drinking in the street was allowed but only with a plastic cup. AWESOME!!! Beer gardens were filled with Cambodians with me being normally the only white person there. It was more enjoyable than the night clubs. I got a feel for the Cambodian culture and how they interact with each other. I also learned that even if you are 50 feet from a conversation you can quickly join in. There will normally be 3 or 4 conversations going on at once with everyone participating in all of them. They showed us parts of the city that no tourists go and places to go out full of people who are having fun. There was no violence when I was there. There are no overly buff guys in the club and if you look at them wrong they want to punch you. It’s just people who are all looking for the same thing….. Happiness. Cambodia was filled with it. I never once met someone who was rude to me. Everyone welcomed us with open arms.

As we drove our bicycle to school everyday, locals would wave at us and scream hello just so they could practice their English. What Cambodia taught me was how to live a more simple, thoughtful, and meaningful life. They use what ever they have around them to get by in life. Anything could be fixed with a plant that was lying around or a random tool.

Cars are not rare in Cambodia but defiantly not the easiest way to get around. Everyone drives Honda Dream bikes that get around 40 MPG. Although it took me nearly a month and a half to learn how to drive one, once I got on one there was no getting me off. It was a new thrill, driving around the busy streets of Siem Reap, or going off the beaten path and visiting temples that no tourist would dare go to. It opened up many opportunities for me, and I will be forever grateful to Marcus a fellow traveler who moved to Cambodia from Germany.


As time was running out, I felt my self not having enough time to do what I wanted. On my last night in Cambodia, it was quite the emotional night. I felt my self avoiding this day since the moment I arrived. I had to say goodbye to my students and the amazing Self Help Community Centre that I called home for two months. It was a heartfelt good bye, which caused tears all around. I think about them everyday and I am forever grateful for what I have been able to do in my life.

Since it is thanksgiving I would like to throw in here what I am grateful as well. I am grateful for my amazing family and the opportunities that they have given me to travel the world and my follow my dream. I am grateful for the many friends I have met throughout my life. Everyone means a great deal to me and although we may not all talk much, you all are amazing people.

I would like to leave you off on this quote and some pictures from my travels. Hope you enjoyed my first post, I’m sure there will be plenty more. An update on Thailand when I get to England 🙂

” There are people everywhere who from a fourth world, or a diaspora of their own. They are the lordly ones! They come in all colours. They can be Christians or Hindus or Muslims or Jews or pagans or atheists. They can be young or old, men or women, soldiers or pacifists, rich or poor. They may be patriots but they are never chauvinists. They share with each other, across all the nations, common values of humor and understanding. When you are among them you know you will not be mocked or resented, because they will not care about your race, your faith, your sex or your nationality, and they suffer fools if not gladly, at least sympathetically. They laugh easily. They are easily grateful. They are never mean. They are not inhibited by fashion, public opinion, or political correctness. They are exiles in their own communities, because they are always in a minority, but they form a minority nation, if they only knew it. It is the nation of nowhere”