This blog post from Xell Brunet (2nd yr Maths and Biology) illustrates how concern for the environment can develop into a practical project , made possible by funding from the Principal’s Go Abroad Fund.
“Last year I was awarded funding from the Principal’s Go Abroad Fund to develop a volunteering project in Cambodia together with a friend of mine. We named this project Agreencam, and the reason why we decided to create it is that we became aware of the worrying situation of the Cambodian agriculture system. The production is very low, which impoverishes the country, very toxic agrochemicals are being used, the natural resources are being depleted…. We realized that this problem was rooted in the lack of education and teaching material at universities. Thus, the aim of Agreencam is to promote a safer, more sustainable agriculture system by creating teaching material on sustainable agriculture addressed to both farmers and students, and to involve students from Cambodian rural universities in the creation process to make it as efficient and useful as possible.
We created the teaching material based on the latest research and we interviewed several professors and businessmen. Once in Cambodia, we first tried to communicate all that knowledge to undergraduate and master students of Agriculture, encouraging them to build their own opinion on how their agriculture system should evolve. We also interviewed and conducted surveys among local farmers to better understand their concerns and points of view. We then designed and created the teaching material with the students. We ended up creating several videos addressing different topics related to the use of pesticides and a poster to link everything together. We are currently in the process of involving more students form European universities, and we are planning to begin more challenging projects, such as the creation of a cooperative to distribute safe pesticides or a project to prevent pesticide self-poisoning.
We also travelled around Cambodia, a unique country with the richest history and culture that I have ever encountered. So as you might be able to tell, it was an incredible experience. If you want to learn, open your horizons, begin to make a change… there is really nothing like volunteering abroad. To me, the best part of it was the level of involvement of the Cambodian students in our project. They were super open to collaborate and grateful to learn from all the information we brought them, and seeing the progress they made throughout the month is the most rewarding thing that has ever happened to me. Cambodia, as many other developing countries, needs to change in many aspects to prosper, but it needs to change in the way their people want to change it, which is something to keep in mind when we volunteer. We have to give them the tools and the education so they can make their own decisions, not decide for them.
And that is all I wanted to say! Thank you very much again to the GOABROAD funds for supporting this project, and to all of you for your attention. Please do contact us if you have any doubts or if you want to collaborate with us! (Facebook: Agreencam, mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)”