Written By Roel Soto (Rector and Dean at DBTS Phnom Penh)
Twelve young people ranging from 17 to 32 years old from different Don Bosco Schools in Australia came for their immersion program under the Cagliero Project from June 29th to July 12th.
Together with the immersion group was Ashley Trethowan, coordinator of the project, and Michael Walter, a former volunteer in Cambodia in 2011 and currently an animator of Australian Salesian Youth Movement (ASYM).
The Cagliero immersion program aims at fostering the experience of the Salesian Spirit in other Salesian settings in foreign countries, enriching the awareness and understanding of other cultures as they live with the local families, students and staff of Don Bosco, and contribute to the Salesian mission of other countries through their out-reach activities in answer to the need of the hosting Salesian Community. The Cagliero Project immersion also aims to introduce the participants to life in the missions and hopes to inspire them to undertake a long term volunteer experience.
The immersion began with an orientation and visit to the works of the Salesians in Phnom Penh and toward the end of the program in Sihanoukville. Then came the 3-day homestay in the families of Salesian staff while facilitating the one-day fun-filled activity on the Salesian Preventive System to all students and staff of DBTS PP and five-days out-reach activities in the DBCF, farm, welding-carpentry, computer, academic, administrative, boarders and oratory departments. There was also a day of site visits to families of the Don Bosco Children Fund beneficiaries, and a weekend tour in the historical sites of Phnom Penh.
The immersionists had hectic days of sharing and interaction with the Khmer people and their culture. Though the different experiences challenged them, the youth went back to Australia happily enriched by a new culture and a circle of friends.