Lauren Woody

Seisen International school, Japan

TASSEL Volunteer, Lauren, with two Khmer teachers in the summer of 2018.

TASSEL Volunteer, Lauren, with two Khmer teachers in the summer of 2018.

Sharing dreams — dreams of the students, the Khmer teachers, the families, and the villagers of Cambodia. TASSEL’s heart is one full of love and one that I believe is based on sharing the dreams of one another. Families send their children to TASSEL, the students study hard, the Khmer teachers both teach and study, volunteers serve full-heartedly, and there is a never ending source of love from all those in the TASSEL family — all because of the hope we all have for a change in the future of Cambodia, and our shared dream to give each individual the opportunity to achieve their dreams. 

When I first filled out a google form, indicating my interest in joining TASSEL in my Freshman year, I honestly did not know a lot about this organization. I had heard about TASSEL from an older friend who had joined in the previous year and the form had a short blurb explaining what my friend had said: TASSEL was a service organization in which volunteers would teach phonics to Cambodian children. To be honest, this was my initial understanding of what TASSEL was. However, being a part of TASSEL for 2 years, and visiting Cambodia twice so far, has shown me that there is more to TASSEL than providing important education to the students. 

Lauren with TASSEL students, playing during recess.

Lauren with TASSEL students, playing during recess.

What I have come to realize is the difference between VSee teaching and visiting Cambodia. I am truly grateful and blessed to have had the opportunity to join the summer trip twice. Through my two visits, I have learned so much about the country and TASSEL. One extremely important thing I have learned through these trips is the history of Cambodia. Even though I had known about the history of Cambodia before my visits, I have been able to learn even more about the history and have a better understanding as to why it is so important for us to serve through TASSEL. In addition, interacting with all of the students and teachers has allowed my knowledge of TASSEL to grow immensely. Being able to physically be with, have conversations with, and teach both the students and Khmer teachers has allowed me to further understand and individually express one of the main aspects of TASSEL: love. While all volunteers are able to understand how important love is to the Cambodians, I believe that visiting Cambodia allows even more love to be communicated, and even more action to take place. In my interactions and conversations with the students during the summer trips, I often asked what they hoped to be in the future. The majority of the time, the students replied with the answers, teacher, or doctor. The students of TASSEL want to bring change to Cambodia through higher education and better health care. Furthermore, the Khmer teachers both teach and study English; many of them even study at college on their days off. 

Lauren with some of her students in the summer of 2018

Lauren with some of her students in the summer of 2018


Through my trips to Cambodia, I have continuously become so disappointed with how unappreciative I have been of my privileges. Yet, through my interactions with the amazing students and teachers of TASSEL, I have truly come to realize the importance of love and education that TASSEL provides. With the opportunity I have to teach and love those who are a part of the TASSEL family, I have become so motivated by both the students, teachers, and villagers, to work even harder for TASSEL. After my trips, I have focused on raising money for TASSEL; I tutor both in and outside of school, as well as have a part-time job. Love in action does not end every time I return home from Cambodia. I have the privilege of an amazing education, as well as have the opportunity to raise money for Cambodia. The least I can do for those in Cambodia is to share and act on their dream of a brighter future, and that to me is by being a part of TASSEL, and contributing in the ways that I can.