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Cambodia Study Trip



A life-changing experience can be yours! Join us for a trip of a lifetime as we travel to Cambodia each winter break to serve, learn, grow and become transformed.

Our trip to Cambodia centers upon individual service-learning projects, along with ongoing group projects, that take us across the most beautiful regions of Cambodia to work closely with the amazing, gracious and hospitable Cambodian people. In addition, we will learn about the basic tenets and precepts of Intercultural Communication—not simply the theory in the books, but also in practice. Let’s experience it together!



Our program is based upon sustainable service learning. Our projects provide labor and help fund rural villages who work with us, proudly contributing their “matching funds” and “sweat equity.” Our Cambodian college students manage this element of the projects. Sometimes the “matching funds” equal $30.00 to our $1200.00 to provide safe drinking water. Raising $30.00 is a tremendous accomplishment and substantial contribution for poor rural villages, and in the end, it is “their well.” Our approach has been recognized by the US State Department for its excellence and the MN Department of Education named one of our students the Service-Learning Student of the Year. In addition, our local United Way chose one of our students as, “Southern MN/Northern IA Volunteer of the Year” in their “10 that Make a Difference” campaign. Further, our students have won Congressional Service Awards, the Kohl’s Kids of Care competition, and the Lt. Governor’s Red Wagon Award. Amazingly, four of our past students were so taken with Cambodia that they’ve returned to open a School in Phnom Penh and another will return to teach English at the school next year. Two won scholarships to travel – one to Argentina and the other to Africa. We were awarded the “BEST PROGRAM” in the state of MN by the Office of the Chancellor. We were even named the best civic engagement program in 2-Year Schools throughout the NATION! Service Learning makes a difference—and your service can make a great difference indeed!


You can help by donating items for the students to bring to Cambodia. We are looking for:
• Whiteboard Markers (blue and red) and Erasers
• Blue & Red Pens -- Glue -- Folders ---Spiral Notebooks
• Alphabet Letters, Learning Posters, etc.
• Beginners English Books (teachers' guidebook at the kindergarten level esp.)
• Conversation Books
• Picture Dictionary Books
• Dictionaries by Grade Level
• Printers (Driver and Cart. for Kodak ESP5210)
• Pencils, Crayons, Scissors, Pencil Sharpeners
• Student Backpacks
• Uniforms
• Medical Supplies
• Hand Soap
• Toothpaste and Toothbrushes
• Martial Arts Equipment (esp. boxing gloves)
• Soccer and Volley Balls and Gear
• Laptops (in working order)
• Sewing Machines (and any tools to help build cabinets) for sewing micro-businesses
• Irons in Different Sizes (electric ones in big, medium and small) for sewing projects
• Assorted Notions/Sewing Materials
• Embroidery Thread, Beads/Jewelry Clasps & Supplies


email lori.halverson@rctc.edu for more information

find us on facebook!



By definition, service learning centers upon "learning through service," not simply "learning to serve.” Thus, our Cambodian experience is not a tourist trip. Though we will see the sites—e.g. Angkor Wat (the world’s largest religious structure and, as representative of Khmer culture at it zenith, it is considered the Ninth Wonder of the World); the beautiful, white-sand beaches along the Gulf of Thailand and Rabbit Island, with calm waves, and mountains and small, quaint Asian fishing boats dotting the horizon.

The trip is truly different in that we will have the unique opportunity to interact with and learn from the Cambodian college students and volunteers with whom we partner. Working side-by-side creates a special reciprocal learning experience. For example, while teaching Basic English, at the same time our students will have the opportunity to learn basic (very basic) Khmer. You will find that the Cambodian people and culture are very open, friendly, and you may very well forge lasting friendships.

Still, much more will be taught and learned: cultural sensitivity, heightened self-awareness, honor, integrity, and self-direction. As one participant eloquently put it, "During this trip, you'll learn about culture and communication. You will see amazing sites. However, through interacting with the Cambodian people, remarkably, you will learn most about yourself. Everything you thought you knew will be challenged—you will learn more than how to hold chopsticks and how the river flows—you will learn about who you are personally, spiritually, and emotionally."

You may audit the class or take it for credit. To best suit your own educational goals, there are several options to consider:

1. Obtaining credits that will transfer—three credits in Intercultural Communication.

2. You have the choice to audit the class.

3. You have the choice of arranging, when possible, "Internship," "Independent Study," or "Directed Study" credits within your own program of study in both undergraduate and graduate programs. Several participants have obtained graduate credit through their schools in the past. The lead instructor for this trip, Lori Halverson-Wente, is more than willing to assist you as your mentor or internship advisor. Additional American professionals will be on the trip as well and assist the tour, discussions, etc. We will work together as a community of learners. .

In addition to once in a lifetime sight-seeing excursions and trips to culturally significant sites, our group will work directly alongside the gracious people of Cambodia. This year, our focus will be to continue working with our Cambodian NGO partner in building wells and bathrooms, teaching English to school children and following up on funding requests from our previous visit. Two students who attended the trip last year are currently in Cambodia opening a school – we will work with them as well.

Imagine how you will be challenged personally as you work with amazing people whose personality and life-experiences will test and perhaps change, you’re previously held notions about your place in our global society. You will hear first-hand stories of genocide and survival under truly harrowing conditions. You will learn of the uncanny resilience of Cambodian culture and the human spirit. In 1975, The Khmer Rouge, a communist organization whose goal was to forcibly reorganize and shape society into an agrarian peasant “paradise,” ruled Cambodia for nearly four years with a brutal hand and no quarter. Whole villages and families were displaced and relocated (in fact, Phnom Penh, the capital and largest city, was virtually emptied). Those suspected of not supporting the Khmer Rouge regime (intellectuals, meaning anyone with education, city dwellers, and supporters of the previous Lon Nol government) were systematically executed. The Khmer Rouge spared no one—e.g. Khmer Rouge soldiers would toss babies into the air and bayonet them. You will visit Tuoel Sleng, a high school converted into an interrogation and torture chamber where Khmer operatives documented, interrogated, tortured, and killed nearly 14,000 Cambodians, then quickly ushered them through to their burial in the “Killing Fields.” (Of the 14,000 or so Cambodians who passed through Tueol Sleng, only seven, though some say six, survived).

Through this trip, we are challenged by the poverty and inspired by the beauty. We have talked to land-mine victims, and orphaned children—it is not easy to know how to help. However, we work side-by-side with amazing students and leaders in Cambodia who are working to change all of this! We find laughter in our friendships as we play with children, visit the beach and view amazing sites! We share their stories and create our own, and hopefully, in the end, make a positive, meaningful change – even if only a very small one—for the greater good.



WHEN: Winter Break (Dec. 26, 2014 - January 11, 2015)
Cost: *$3,375 (trip cost) + $419 (course differential) plus normal tuition for 3 credits ($576).
(*final price and dates will be determined when airline tickets are finalized)

Fee Breakdown and Deadlines:

Dates Amount Due Description
ASAP $300 Down Payment
*Sept 15-Oct 31 $2,000 Flight/Hotel Down Payment
Nov 21 $1,475 Tuition Differential & Trip Balance
Dec 12 $576 Base Tuition for 3 credits
  $4,351 Total (includes tuition)

*Note: Early payment is strongly recommended.

Students also pay for 1-2 meals a day and RCTC tuition/fees

With lower or late student enrollment and later registration, the price of the trip may increase slightly. We plan on working to fill trip seats ASAP and have only 4 seats left -- if we pay earlier, we may be able to receive a discount on the price. Please sign up right away to hold your seat!

  • The Trip Price includes:
    • Airfare from US Departure City
    • Cambodian Entrance Visa
    • Cambodian Government Exit Fees
    • Ground Transportation in Cambodia
    • Hotel Accommodations
    • MnSCU Foreign Travel Accident (medical) Insurance
    • On site American and Cambodian Guides and Translator's Services
    • Village Visits
    • Trip Sponsored Celebrations and Gatherings
    • Guided Tours in Remote Villages
    • City Tours and Tour Guides
    • Guest Speakers and Special Events
    • Admission to Cultural Sites
    • Assessment Cultural Survey
    • Celebration Meals
    • Most Breakfasts

  • Not Included in the Trip Price:
    • Meals:
      A suggested meal budget of about $20.00 a day will be paid by students in Cambodia. Students who would like to spend more on meals and beverages will need to plan accordingly for this additional cost. Students will also need to purchase drinking water.
    • RCTC Tuition and Fees:
      All applicable RCTC tuition/student fees and reading materials (note – financial aid may be used for tuition & fees in most cases but may not be used for “down payments.”). All deadlines and regulations for normal registration of courses apply to this course. Detailed information is available on the fees/tuition.
    • Passport & Visa Photographs:
      Students will also be responsible for obtaining and paying for a valid, legal passport and 2 official photographs for travel visas. While passports are being issued at a faster rate than ever….If you do not have a passport, you may need to "expedite" it if you apply after October.
    • Trip Cancellation Insurance (you are advised to purchase this)
    • Incidental Expenses (i.e., internet, tuk-tuk rides, additional cultural site visits, shopping, etc.)
    • Course Reading Materials and Books
    • Transportation to US Departure/Arrival Site
    • Any expense not explicitly mentioned in fee package

Trip dates will be determined when the tickets are finalized
Mandatory pre-departure sessions: 11/16/14, 11/30/2014
Post Trip Reunion: 1/18/2015
**Post-trip Student Success Day Presentation Session: 02/19/2015
**Post-trip Final Student Work Day: 4/12/2015

Email --Lori.Halverson@rctc.edu | Phone -- 507.285.7553 (Office)


Contact Information
(507) 285-7210 or 1‑800‑247‑1296
Rochester Community and Technical College
851 30th Ave SE :: Rochester, MN 55904-4999
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Rochester Community and Technical College, a member of Minnesota State.
RCTC is an affirmative action, equal opportunity educator and employer.
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