Oct. 11, 2011
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -
The following article was written by LMU women's soccer player, Jaide Garcia. She details the summer spent with women's cross country runner, Stephanie Felix, as they traveled to Cambodia for two weeks.
This past summer was anything but ordinary for cross country runner Stephanie Felix and me. Aside from athletic competition, traveling to Cambodia for two weeks was one of the highlights of our college experience and something we will never forget. The trip was planned by our club on campus called Global Exchange that Stephanie started last fall. Accompanying us were three other club members and a Professor who is from Cambodia.
The purpose of the trip was to work with a non-profit organization called Bridge of Life that was co-founded by an LMU alumnus. The organization consists of a small English school for children and a small sewing program for the local women. Our goal was to help the women build their sewing business by teaching them about marketable products and basic business duties that would help them create their own self-sustainable income. I asked Stephanie to reflect on the trip by answering a few questions.
Me: What was your main goal for going to the Bridge of Life school in Cambodia?
S: Our goal was to work with the women to help them establish their own business and help them with the planning and developing process.
Me: What is the connection you find between being an athlete and a humanitarian?
S: I feel privileged as an athlete and it inspires me to try to help people. I have developed work ethic and discipline that teaches me the values for overcoming life challenges. Also the way I prepare for a race can be applied to the way I prepare for life.
Me: What was the most shocking thing that you encountered while on the trip?
S: The hospitality of the people there was amazing. Despite their poverty and the poor conditions that they lived in, they helped each other and were truly community oriented. When we were looking for something at the market and a vendor didn't have what we needed, he or she would point us towards someone who did. They looked out for each other and for us and were very friendly.
Me: What is your favorite memory from Cambodia?
S: One day we gave the women gift bags that we had prepared for them and hung out with them as they decorated their room using poster supplies we had provided. Another day we brought a laptop in to show them a fashion show because they had never seen one before. Then afterwards they held their own fashion show including the women and all the school children.
Me: As the President of the club and a leader on the trip, how did you deal with changes and troubles that you encountered while there?
S: I saw us all as equals on the trip so we all contributed from a leadership perspective. We were all able to have meaningful reflections and mature conversations that kept us honest about the focus of what we were there for. I also turned to Professor Sockhom for guidance.
Me: What are your future plans on working with non-profits?
S: I definitely want to go back to Cambodia some day. They have a sea of so many problems that provide opportunities for a small group of students to make a lasting impact on the lives of the people we came into contact with.
Stephanie is graduating in the spring and plans on continuing to host events on campus with her club Global Exchange.