Monday, October 15, 2007

Sophanara's Trip to NYC: A Personal Perspective

Sophanara Blogs for Americans for UNFPA

As for the personal reflection I feel that non-profits organizations in the US and Cambodia have similar goals towards promoting women’s status and protecting women and girls rights. Similar centers have been established and vocational trainings have been provided as well as counseling to heal the trauma. However, I personally noted that the communication system between the victim and assistance providers in the US is more modern, especially in terms of technology. In the U.S. the internet and email is a common medium for communicating even when sensitive matters are involved, while in Cambodia service providers have to be community-based agents or provided through a local authority network. In terms of resource mobilization skills, we are not as strong as the Americans for UNFPA; partly because Cambodian society is not very supportive of social development issues and they are frequently influenced by political philosophy.

Attending the Gala event was the most important learning opportunity of my trip to New York in October. I learned the way the organizer (Americans for UNFPA) mobilizes support from its friends and supporters.

The commitment from American honorees, social workers others supportive of UNFPA’s work reflects the western’s value and the way they help/care each other. It shows how Americans lead their lives.

I had a chance to meet the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon and his wife in person – he is a very supportive leader for improving women’s status.

Through the informal discussion with the international honorees, I learnt that the issues challenging developing countries are not much different to one another in how they contribute to assisting their communities – I feel now that we are not alone in our efforts.

It was a very great honor for me to meet with members of the US Congress, the Board of Directors of Americans for UNFPA and its staff members, non-profit organizations and American citizens at different capacities. Most of them shared our concerns although their priorities varied.

I feel that I did not have a chance to listen the voices of the vulnerable groups or the poor people (centre) and the White house (executive body).

The memorable experiences include the varieties of transportation methods that I took from one place to another. I was able to explore many places and states by walking, riding the subway, taking an express train, and taking a bus. The weather in fall was perfect for me; it was hot like summer time. On the east coast in particular the trees were green and natural. It was so surprised when I saw lots of forest beside the highway. I have always thought that in the industrialized countries there would not much natural resources conserved such as big trees, birds, animals.

I found that NYC is a commercial center and time is valuable for New Yorkers, people walk very fast in crowds and we could not sit longer in a restaurant once we have dined given demands from other clients. The US, NY in particular, is the country for everybody – I met people from various countries including Asians, Africans, Caribbean’s, Arabians and Europeans, though they are legally American citizens, their original languages are used among their folks – making them feel like their home countries. I myself did not see much gap between the rich and poor. People seem to respect law and do not interfere in other’s private lives.

Though, I rarely saw smiles on New Yorkers’ faces, most of them who came into my contact are very friendly and helpful. The personal relationships with few American friends are wealthy and unforgettable memory in my life! I, very much, believe in the educational qualification in the US, therefore, I wish I would have chance to graduate there! (That’s my dream!)

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