Bridgewater State University students recently traveled to Cambodia with the goal of installing water filters. They came away learning so much more.
“You don’t realize how important something as simple as clean water is until you go to a place that doesn’t have it,” said Katelyn Bynoe, who was among 10 students who traveled to the Southeast Asian nation on a spring break service trip this year.
Katelyn and her peers are the latest group of BSU students to travel to Cambodia as part of an almost decade-long tradition. They work with the Cambodian NGO Water for Cambodia to build and install biosand filters in village homes. Thanks to BSU, Water for Cambodia has installed more than 20,000 of the devices, which filter contaminated water through layers of sand and gravel and produce clean water within minutes.
Bridgewater State first became involved when biology professor Dr. Kevin Curry helped Rotarians, who started Water for Cambodia, create an on-site water testing lab
“We believe every person has a desire to make a difference by giving themselves to help others,” Dr. Curry said, explaining what keeps the BSU trips going year after year.
On this year’s trip, which was funded by the President’s Office and led by Dr. Wing-kai To, academic director of the Minnock Institute for Global Engagement, students installed 60 water filters in Lveng Rusey Village. Their effort comes as approximately 4 million people in Cambodia do not have access to safe water, said student Kushi Singh.
They also went hiking, ate new foods such as frog, and became friends with Cambodian students from Pannasastra University of Cambodia.
Some students, including Keyana Adarkwah, said the trip was their first time abroad. Keyana was reserved her first few days overseas but soon learned to embrace the opportunity to become immersed in a new culture.
“You really just kind of need to put yourself out there and experience new things,” she said.
Students, who presented about the trip on Tuesday, said it sparked their desire to serve others and travel more. They were amazed at how friendly Cambodians were to each other and them.
“Literally, these people have nothing and they’re still the happiest people in the world,” said Christian Santos.
Keyana added: “I’m not going to be silent about how these people need water and I’m not going to stay silent about how people here need water.”
Other students on the trip included Kyle Bueno, Brittany Christian, Karen Exama, Hafso Gurhan, Anthony Hebert and Jenny Taylor. (Story by Brian Benson, University News).