I want to go back

Friends re-unite as volunteers at AHC

Usaphea Vanna and Rada Khann are friends. They studied at the same school in Pork District, about 15 kilometres from Siem Reap where Rada was one year ahead of Usaphea .

Both girls applied for scholarships to study abroad while they were in grade 12 and both were lucky enough to be accepted.

Rada received a scholarship to study a Bachelor of Bioscience emphasising Health Science at Asia Pacific International University in Thailand, Usaphea was awarded a scholarship to study chemistry at Elon University in the USA, and is in her third year.

By chance, they both applied for the same role to volunteer at AHC at the same time without contacting each other and they were reunited in July when they began working together.

“We are friends since high school and I’m glad that we can meet again,” Usaphea says. “We äre not only good friends but we have the same heart for work and goals.”

Their high school – Jay Pritzker Academy – has connections with AHC and Rada, who is in her fourth year of study, also did some internet research to learn about the hospital and its care for Cambodian children. She is required to do an internship as part of her degree, so she applied to volunteer for four weeks, where she spent one week in the Pharmacy Unit and the rest of her time in the Haematology Laboratory.

“I have had a great experience at AHC and the staff are welcoming and they are willing to help,” Rada says.

Her biggest challenge has been dealing with the physical practice, not just the theory she learnt at university.

“Ï like the working environment here. The staff are willing to work. No matter how hard it is they try their best and all of them are kind to the patients,” she says.

Usaphea loves working in the hospital, knowing what she does is helping to save lives. She wants to study medicine when she finishes her degree but she hasn’t decided yet which field she will apply for. Volunteering at the hospital will help her to learn which field she likes the best. This is the second time she has volunteered at AHC, her first time was in the laboratory and this time she is dividing her time between the laboratory and the pharmacy.

She has loved AHC since she was young and her mother brought her to this hospital when she was sick. She was inspired by the doctors and nurses who treated her and it sparked her dream to pursue a career in medicine.

“I was feeling nervous at first but AHC staff treat me as family and friend and that made me feel comfortable and want to volunteer again,” she says.

Both girls are 21 and like their experience living in another country. Rada says the adjustment between Cambodia and Thailand was not too great and she is able to come home for visits about three times a year. Usaphea says moving so far and to a completely different culture was a big challenge at first.

“Ït is so different from Cambodia, I can’t really compare,” she says.

She missed home for the first few months but adjusted after that and has been able to travel a lot during her term breaks and usually comes home once a year.

It is great to see Cambodian girls pursuing a career in science and gaining so much international experience and coming back to volunteer their time with AHC.

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