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Friendships Made Alongside Unforgettable Experiences for SEA Games Volunteers

PHNOM PENH: This year’s SEA Games was made possible with the help of around 6,000 volunteers. In November of 2022, the Cambodian SEA Games Committee (CAMSOC) announced its online portal for people to sign up as volunteers for the 32nd SEA Games. Six months later, around 6,000 volunteers showed up to donate their time and energy to running a successful event.

Minister of Tourism and vice-president of CAMSOC, Thong Khon said during the recruitment process, “We know volunteers play a very important role for this great sporting event.”

EAC News had the opportunity to speak with some of the volunteers before the closing ceremony and found a small community had formed of people from all over Asia working towards a shared mission: to run a smooth and enjoyable SEA Games.

First-time volunteer Kim Jaehui is from Korea but has been living in Cambodia for three years and was eager for the opportunity to work with Cambodians and international volunteers. She was assigned to a team with people from Indonesia, Australia, Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam; for her, the most exciting part about the Games was getting to meet athletes, but she noted other perks as well, “I can see a lot of games during the SEA Games and also I can make a lot of friends. Also the committee gave free food and accommodation and free transportation also. So, it’s quite nice,” she said.

Along with the athletes and sports delegates, CAMSOC provided free room and board and transportation to the volunteers. Aside from the amenities, the volunteers we spoke to were grateful for the friendships they’ve made and the unforgettable experience of hosting Cambodia’s first-ever SEA Games.

As Filipino volunteer Julius Caesar Aguilar said, “It’s a once in a lifetime experience. You can’t really explain it in words, you have to experience it to know what it’s like to be a volunteer.”

Paul is a freshman at the American University of Phnom Penh majoring in Information Communication and Technology. He is putting his studies to good use at the Games’ accreditation center, making badges for athletes, media, volunteers and sports delegates; and he is making connections along the way.“I got to make friends with people from [abroad] and even friends I didn’t know. I met some of my seniors and yeah, I made a lot of friends and it feels great.”

Primary school teacher Kham Khunnang loved every bit of her volunteer experience, saying of the Games, “My favorite part of the SEA Games? My favorite was all!” She echoed the sentiment of many Cambodians who were eager to showcase their country on the international stage. She left us with a heartfelt message, “I want the world to know that Cambodia is a lovely country and I think through the Games the world can live together as a family because all nations need peace. ‘Sports Live in Peace.’ All hearts beat as one for world peace.”

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