I stepped into Cambodia and immediately began to sweat. Maybe it was the Jack and Cokes on the 14 hour flight from D.C. to Toyko that were still in my system or maybe it was the extreme humidity and heat that permeates the country for about 85% of the entire year. I soaked Cambodia and the contrasting culture up over the next two years and it will never leave me.
I worked in a state sponsored high school in the southern province of Kampot. I taught in grades nine through twelfth. It was a dynamic experience that offered me countless opportunities to increase the English level of both students and teachers. In addition, the work formed friendships that cleared my rather basic lens of the world, which allowed me to hone in on the things that truly do matter. My service in Cambodia not only provided me opportunities to contribute to a small community outside of the United States, but also contribute to my future and myself.
One thing that I learned about myself in Peace Corps was that I had a hot red ember of passion for photography. I love that photography allows for moments to freeze and be offered at a later time. The ability to create powerful photos that offer a feeling to those who are not directly in the situation became a goal of mine throughout my time in Cambodia. I realized that what I was taking pictures of meant something to my friends and family back home. These pictures were a glimpse of my life, which was the life of all the Cambodians I came in to contact with. I would set out on my Peace Corps provided bicycle and hit the dusty trails and find the lone farmer in his small field or the pastel sunset that rested on the mountains for moments before the dark set in. Photography brought me out into Cambodia, which brought me thousands of memories that are now forever at my fingertips to be withdrawn whenever I miss the heat of the days or the love of my Cambodian host family.
Peace Corps can be many things or nothing. Peace Corps is what you make of it. Make your service impactful and it will be. Make your service memorable and it will be.
-Evan Cobb served in Peace Corps Cambodia from 2012- 2014.