08 Feb Changing Lives Through Project TEN-Cambodia
Changing Lives Through Project TEN-Cambodia
Maya, the manager of Project TEN’s Cambodia center, and Artemiy, an Israeli volunteer, both agree that the program is changing the lives not only of locals but of the volunteers themselves.
Maya was studying for her master’s in global studies in Israel and not really looking for a job when she saw that Project TEN was looking for a manager to establish a new center in Cambodia. The position intrigued her as she thought it’d offer her the opportunity to combine her studies with actual work in the field, and be able to contribute to a community with fewer resources.
Project TEN is The Jewish Agency’s service-learning program that promotes social resilience in developing communities around the globe and in Israel. Volunteers are young Jewish adults from all over the world who work alongside locals while engaging in a global dialogue on Jewish identity and values with their peers.
Maya arrived in Cambodia in April 2022, and the Cambodia TEN center in Siam Reap – Project TEN’s first in Asia – welcomed its first three-month volunteer cohort in May 2022. The next cohort was there from September to December 2022 and the third cohort began in January 2023.
“In every place Project TEN has a center, we try to work and collaborate with the community so all of us together create lasting change,” shared Maya. “The volunteers here live in Siam Reap and work in primary schools in two rural towns nearby, reaching 700-800 kids a week. They focus on helping kids develop 21st-century skills through art and science, social activities, board games, and more. And this experience is, in turn, helping the volunteers develop as leaders.”
Artemiy was part of the second volunteer cohort in Cambodia. Hailing from Haifa, he heard about Project TEN from a friend who had volunteered with the program in Ghana, and strongly identified with the mission of the program.
“During the day, we went to different schools and worked with lots of students, tailoring our activities to the kids’ interests. In the evenings, we had sessions where we learned about and discussed international development, education, sustainability and Jewish topics, which was so interesting,” explained Artemiy.
Artemiy has since returned to Israel and plans to attend college, studying electrical engineering. But he knows the knowledge and tools he gained through volunteering with Project TEN will only help him in the future.
“While it was scary to leave everything behind and fly to another country for a long period, once you got there and started working, the reason you came immediately clicked and the experience was so worthwhile,” Artemiy said. “Cambodia is a beautiful country whose people are so welcoming and resilient. And Project TEN helps you grow mentally and emotionally and broadens your perspective. I absolutely loved it.”