James Patraiko main

During his 12 weeks overseas, James lodged with a host family so that he could better experience a new way of life.

Cambodia volunteering project proves fruitful for Exeter student

A University of Exeter student has completed a volunteering project on a VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) Entrepreneurship scheme in Cambodia.

James Patraiko, a 2nd year student in the Renewable Energy programme at the Penryn Campus in Cornwall, spent his summer working on the project, which looked to put young people from the UK together with those from developing countries together in order to support emerging businesses.

James was tasked with two projects within the local community. To help a small island community access clean water from a source other than the contaminated river, he worked to install solar panels powering the extraction of water from wells. He also assisted in the development of branding for local organic vegetable growers on the island, enabling them to market themselves to restaurants and businesses further afield.

After completing the project, James said: “I was able to create links between the farmers and companies, as well as creating a brand for the produce. I drew on traditional methods of farming by creating a series of photographs and raising awareness for the product. Through the introduction of contracts, farmers were able to gain 20% more revenue from their produce by cutting out the middle man.”

During his 12 weeks overseas, James lodged with a host family so that he could better experience a new way of life and gain some local knowledge of the area. He said: “I had the opportunity to live within the community and to immerse myself in the culture, as well as learn the language. I lived in a house on stilts with no electric or running water. One time I got stung by a scorpion and it had to be treated with fruit instead of medicine.”

James also spent time teaching English to approximately 30 local children, who previously had no access to education. He said: “My placement allowed me to apply the theoretical knowledge that I have learnt within my degree in a real world setting. The opportunity to get hands-on experience offered a new challenge and showed just how important the work is to these communities.”

Many University of Exeter students undertake a placement whilst completing their degrees. The institution fully encourages and actively helps anyone who would like to get involved with projects such as this to gain work experience. Students can find more information on placements here.

Date: 3 February 2016

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