Former Cambridge High School Student Ambassador returns to our School

After graduating from college in 2014, Isabel Campbell-Gross, began working for Cambodian Living Arts in Phnom Penh. She was a senior at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School when she joined the first Student Ambassador Team in 2010 that inaugurated our school and toured Cambodia. That experience impacted her choice of study in college and brought her back to Cambodia in 2014. Thank you, Isabel for your enthusiasm and for sharing your thoughts:

It has been over five years since I had the great privilege of attending the grand opening of the Cambridge Cambodia School in Cambodia, a trip that inspired me to return to Cambodia exactly one year ago. It has only been two months since I arrived back in Cambridge from an amazing year in Cambodia interning for the local NGO, Cambodian Living Arts (CLA), and I am so happy to be able to maintain my connection to Cambodia through CambCamb and its tireless community of supporters.

The relationship between Cambodia and Cambridge that was formed through the creation of the school is so reflective of the global outlook and involvement that defines our community. I know this cross-cultural bridge enriches and educates members of our community, students and parents alike. Of course, I especially value this relationship, as it not only introduced me to Cambodia and the community of impactful NGOS working there, including CLA, but also broadened my entire worldview and way of thinking tremendously. After that first trip to Cambodia, I knew I wanted to be doing the kind of meaningful work we saw being accomplished throughout Cambodia.  

This is not to overshadow the enormous impact the school has on the inspiring students in Cambodia, which I had the great opportunity to witness first hand this past February. It was an amazing experience to return to the school five years later and see it as a fully functioning educational facility, with a library, computer room, and team of dedicated and eager students. I was incredibly impressed by the school and its students. Their passion for learning and intellectual curiosity reminded me of the excitement education inspired in me when I was a child, and I know they understand and value the importance of education.

I was also encouraged by how astute the students are at assessing their own needs and how listening to their ideas can lead to simple, impactful improvements for the school and solutions to problems the students face, such as the essential need to own a bike in order to attend high school. The dedication of the teachers, as well, to educating their students, despite the difficulty posed by low teacher salaries in Cambodia and the remote location of the school, is beyond admirable. I left the school that day feeling confident in the school’s continued success and ability to produce bright and inquisitive students. 

As I’m sure most of you know, Cambodia is a truly special place. I was inspired by so many things about Cambodia: the vibrancy and tenacity of the people, the country’s impressive cultural heritage, and the work to keep this legacy intact, the subtle yet flavorful food, and the beauty and diversity of the country itself. I love and value our community for its support of a school in this amazing country, in a village where one didn’t exist before. Providing a place where students are given the tools to become the next leaders and innovators of their own communities, and beyond, is immeasurably important and I’m proud to be a part of a community that values the incredible impact one school can have.