Jenny Niwa

seisen international school, toyko, japan

  TASSEL volunteer Jenny Niwa delivering clothing to a student at the Kamping Puoy TASSEL School on a 2016 summer trip.

TASSEL volunteer Jenny Niwa delivering clothing to a student at the Kamping Puoy TASSEL School on a 2016 summer trip.

How did the trip to Cambodia impact your life?

2,630 miles separates myself from Cambodia, the nation that I have come to love. 2,630 miles distances me from the people that I have established deep and special connections with. But even though 2,630 miles separates us, whenever I think about Cambodia, I am constantly reminded of how my heart was transformed by the service trip I went on this summer. 

  Jenny Niwa with her students of the Samrang TASSEL School, summer 2016.

Jenny Niwa with her students of the Samrang TASSEL School, summer 2016.

Cambodia is a country that is slowly healing from the horrors of the brutal regime of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979, which has significantly impacted this nation. By murdering approximately 2 million people, most of whom were intellectuals, the Khmer Rouge obliterated the nation of Cambodia. Although Cambodia is starting to recover and improve its country, there are still so many children, and even adults, who do not get the proper care and education that they should be given. The things we take for granted, that we consider normal in our lives, are things regarded as very valuable for the people in Cambodia. We have the privilege to go to hospitals when we are sick, come back to a loving family every day and receive education. However, so many families in Cambodia suffer from different diseases, financial instability, and lack of necessities; I cannot describe in words how witnessing such horrors impacted me. It has opened my eyes to see the difficulties that I would have been forever oblivious too, had I not been engulfed by the reality of the struggles that the Cambodian people face everyday on the TASSEL summer trip. Through VSee, we only see the smiles, enthusiasm and passion the children have when they learn English; however, we fail to realize that their smiles only showcase one side of their lives. The children, as well as the teachers all have their own stories, that we have to always keep in mind when we teach and engage in fundraising activities.  

Through the experiences I encountered in Cambodia, I was able to gain new knowledge as well as understand the true meaning of what it means to be a TASSEL member. Being a TASSEL member does not mean simply showing up to every 40 minute class each week to teach the kids, or raise money for different fundraising events because it is mandatory in the chapter. TASSEL is about the heart; It is about the willingness to give and support others. It is about the passion and the love that we give to each individual, and it represents a spark of light that we can provide for the benefit of the Cambodian nation. 

TASSEL cannot be easily compared to other service and charity groups because it is a unique organization that reflects the hearts of the most genuine and passionate people. TASSEL truly changes the lives of everyone who is involved and I can say this one thing in confidence: although we are the ones who strive to help the people in Cambodia for a brighter future, along the way, we are the ones to have our hearts transformed. 

  TASSEL Chapter from Seisen poses with TASSEL students and teachers. 

TASSEL Chapter from Seisen poses with TASSEL students and teachers. 

  TASSEL Volunteer Jenny Niwa on a recent summer trip to Cambodia. 

TASSEL Volunteer Jenny Niwa on a recent summer trip to Cambodia.