On Cambodia: “Kids in Koh Preah”

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Hannah Bumgarner (right) carrying bamboo poles back from fence post site with her new friend, Kuate. Photo special

Hannah Bumgarner (right) carrying bamboo poles back from fence post site with her new friend, Kuate. Photo special

By Hannah Bumgarner

In July 2013 I took a trip to the other side of the world, where I visited the Kingdom of Cambodia. I went with a group of students from around the United States. We were part of a global citizenship school called Students Shoulder to Shoulder, and we were all eager to go, not knowing what was in store for us.

After coming back home, everyone always asks me, “Hannah, what was your favorite part of the trip?” and for a long time, my answer was, “I don’t know, there were so many parts that I loved!” It was true, narrowing the three weeks down into one single thing seemed impossible, but after reflecting upon it, I figured it out.

The kids. That’s what my favorite part about the trip was. While we were in Cambodia, we spent about a week in a rural island village called Koh Preah, where we built concrete fence posts to put around a primary schoolyard and keep out the water buffalo. While we worked in that brutal 110-degree Cambodian sun, shoveling gravel and mixing cement, we were surprised to find the students at the primary school helping us.

I’ve never seen such amazing work ethic. Not just from kids, but from people in general. These children were about 13 at the oldest, yet they carried 10 foot long bamboo poles, hauled heavy baskets of gravel, and ran to collect more sand for the concrete mixture. Not only that, they smiled while working. They were so excited to help us build these fenceposts for their school.

These kids inspired me to love working again. They made me realize that work isn’t a burden at all, it’s only a task that helps achieve a greater goal. If tiny 7-year-old girls can carry baskets of gravel back in forth in the sun all day without getting tired, who’s to say I can’t?

Hanna Bumgarner is a sophomore at West Lake Academy near Keller, Texas. She is the daughter of Wes and Ange Bumgarner, the granddaughter of Bob and Janice Bumgarner of Madison and Gary and Becky McGee of Woodstock.

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