Aya Oji


Aya Oji, St. Maur Chapter President. 

Aya Oji, St. Maur Chapter President. 

How did you find out about TASSEL? Why did you feel compelled to start a chapter? What did you do to start TASSEL?

I did not know about TASSEL until just recently when Joji came over to our school and made a presentation about TASSEL. I had always been interested in helping out the poor but did not know what to do or where to start. I’d seen numerous organizations asking for donations for the Cambodians but I always wondered if that would change anything. Of course receiving food, clothes, and medication is better than having nothing but what I learned through TASSEL is that this only brings joy to the people in Cambodia for that brief moment. It is not going to help change Cambodia and get out of the situation that they are in right now. I found out that the key of helping the people in Cambodia is to educated them and give them love.

I have been very blessed and privileged to be able to attend a wonderful school with caring teachers and to be surrounded by family and friends who have loved me unconditionally. I almost take these two very important factors for granted because it is a normal thing for me but it is not for some people, like the kids in Cambodia. And if something I see and receive everyday can change their lives, I just had to start TASSEL at St.Maur.

Right after Joji’s presentation, I mailed the teacher who was organizing Joji’s visits and everything moved quickly from then. We found a good number of people who were interested and a teacher who was willing to help out. This was in May before summer break so the actual club started next school year. I was introduced to other chapter presidents and they all welcomed me with excitement. Starting a new chapter and working with people from outside my school was new to me and challenging, but the overwhelming support and kind gestures from other chapters  helped me so much and kept me going. Every time I had a question, they were all keen to answer and moreover, they gave us advices and constantly made sure everything was moving forward at the St.Maur chapter. I, along with the members from the St.Maur chapters, were reassured that we became part of such an amiable and compassionate community.

It’s only been a few weeks since I’ve started teaching, but TASSEL is definitely becoming a big part of my life and for others’ as well. Everyone sends eachother pictures preparing for classes and and correcting their written work. I can hear people talking about TASSEL in the corridor and I find myself talking about my TASSEL class to those who aren’t even in TASSEL! I have already had people approach me that they want to join TASSEL next year, it’s amazing! As part of a fund raiser, we organized a Elementary Dance Party and we explained to them about what we do. The elementary students organized everything and made TASSEL posters and now all of the elementary students at St.Maur knows about TASSEL too!

The journey of starting a TASSEL chapter has been a new experience but I’ve enjoyed every step of it. It opened my eyes and made me look at everything around me from a different perspective. It has brought so much joy and positive energy to my life and I hope I can do the same to the people in Cambodia!