My Experience: Celebrating 200 years of the Don Bosco legacy

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Written By Travis Bell

The who’s, the where’s and the what’s of my 200 Anniversary of Don Bosco experience.

My one-year volunteership in Phnom Penh had barely started when the Bicentenary Celebration of Don Bosco came around. It was an exciting three days of royal visits, fun games, ceremonies and good food at Don Bosco Technical School in Phnom Penh. 3000 students, teachers, staff, volunteers and Salesian Priests, Brothers and Sisters came to attend the event from different Don Bosco institutions all over Cambodia. Those who attended came from areas including Poipet, Sihanoukville, Salabalath, Andaung Chenh, Toul Kork, Tuek Thla and Chrey Kong (to name a few).

The first day we watched as visitors arrived in Phnom Penh in buses, trucks and cars all throughout the day – a special mention must go to one of our teachers Pisei for his skills in organising lodgings for 2000 people within the school grounds.

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The second day was when the exciting times began; it all started with a royal visit from Her Highness Princess Norodom Arunreaksmey, Supreme Councillor of the King, with the students lining the driveway in different coloured shirts (representing the school they came from) cheering as she passed. This was followed by the opening ceremony where we were lucky to hear words from her Highness, as well as from Father John and Father Roel. We were also privileged to experience the Khmer traditional blessing dance by the students of Cambodia Children’s Fund in Toul Kork. The ceremony ended with the releasing of white doves and balloons, and the opening of Don Bosco exhibits.
The second day continued on with plenty of games and excitement. The students participated in fast-paced, heated, fun games including volleyball, basketball, and football competitions. All schools put on a great performance. We also had a Sideshow Alley of sorts with games to play as well as various food stalls serving delicious food – with my highlight being the chicken soup from Brothers’ Pizza in Toul Kork. To finish off the games, there was a fast-paced, adrenaline-filled bike race around the school grounds. That night saw a number of performances, including some beautiful singing, skilled dancing and funny comedy acts by students from various schools.

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The third and final day saw us welcoming the Apostolic Vicar of Cambodia, his Excellency Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler, into the school to celebrate the thanksgiving mass in honor of Don Bosco and to share some words to all that attended. After this event came a delicious lunch – and once again a special mention goes out to all the cooks who fed the attendees. Finally at the end of the day came the sad farewells, but excited “see you later” to those heading home.

All in all the weekend was awesome and I enjoyed all three days. To those who came and made the weekend what it was, I would like to say a very special thank you. It was a weekend of healthy competition, honoured guests, making friends, and creating wonderful memories.

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