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Service Learning Leadership Program - Cambodia



5 Weeks




This program is designed to expose students to a range of service types (environmental, educational and community) and introduce theory relating to sustainability, ethical service learning, international development practices and leadership in the Service Education context.

Based in beautiful Cambodia, it is perfect for those looking to learn more about ethical and sustainable volunteering, those looking to gain employment in the sector, or current educators/teachers.


30 Jun - 1 Aug


The global service-learning industry is growing rapidly, yet it is becoming very clear that many projects that do not have clear long term goals or collaborate well with communities, which can be detrimental and exploitative. 


If we are to truly make a difference, a foundation of ethics, welfare and cultural understanding must underpin all service-learning activities to ensure they are worthwhile for all involved.


So how do you maximise the impact you can have when volunteering? First, you must learn about the communities themselves, then apply best practice so you can most effectively create change.


We created this program to help individuals who are genuinely looking to make a difference in the service-learning industry, by volunteering themselves or by getting involved in the management of existing organisations. By raising awareness of best practice we can hopefully create a strong network of contributors, and support progressive organisations who are working hard to create positive change.


The 33 day Service Learning Leadership Program syllabus will cover:

  • Contemporary issues in international development
  • International and service-learning best practises and ethics
  • Knowledge, skills and attitudes for positive contribution to an educational, community and environmental service-learning project or program
  • Development project or program design
  • Working with local communities and organisations
  • Group leadership and management theory and practices
  • Ethical travel and travel management
  • Introductory travel medicine and common participant issues



On successful completion of this program, participants will be able to:

  • Independently undertake volunteer contributions with confidence that they have selected ethical and sustainable projects or programs
  • Seek employment in a coordination, leadership or management role within the service-learning or volunteering sector with a broad understanding of best practices, collaboration and leadership

Courtney 620



  • Learn about rice production and Cambodian cooking
  • Meet an organisation that is using the arts as a form of expression, empowerment, education and employment for disabled people
  • Help complete repairs of damaged buildings in a poor rural community
  • visit the sombre Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum to learn about the Cambodian genocide under the Khmer Rouge
  • Learn about elephant welfare and rehabilitation at a large native jungle elephant sanctuary
  • Meet inspiring NGO's working to help those working in child and youth protection, women's education, and small community entrepreneurs
  • Visit the unforgettable and totally impressive Angkor Temples, the largest temple site on earth
  • Focus on mentorship & learning through shared experiences
  • Discover yourself and your leadership abilities
  • Low student - instructor ratio for personalised learning
  • Qualified & experienced instructors
  • Most meals
  • All accommodation
  • All in program travel (not including international travel to start/finish)


  • English language fluency
  • Be 18-35 years old at time of commencement
  • General fitness is recommended. All professional development and training is provided
  • A desire to accept challenges, a thirst for knowledge, empathy for others and willingness to learn about other cultures
  • Be a social team player that enjoys helping others

Note spaces on this program are extremely limited. Most of our candidates apply 8-12 months in advance of start date. 




Although there are many incredible areas of the world where this program could take place, we believe Cambodia, with its unique struggles, is the perfect learning environment. The past decade has seen huge change in Cambodia, as the truth about the impact short-term volunteering became clear, with companies and impoverished local families looking to monetise international tourist attention at the cost of children's education and safety.


There are now many inspirational organisations working within Cambodian communities to help improve the lives of thousands who were subject to lack of education, trafficking, poverty and illness.


Days 1-7 Angtasom, Family Homestay

Arrive in Phnom Penh. Welcome and orientation.

Head to Angtasom for a rural homestay with a wonderful Cambodian family, who work in education, social enterprise and community development. Five full days here with time to visit a nearby high school, an interesting local market, the homestay family’s pagoda, and learn about rice production and Cambodian cooking. Dive into the service learning syllabus while getting to explore this unique, welcoming homestay environment.

Stay: Homestay

Day 8-14 Kampot Province

Head to Kampot province. Explore Epic Arts, an organization working with disabled Khmers. Epic Arts is a NGO working with the disabled to promote integration of people of all abilities using the arts as a form of expression, empowerment, education and employment – vital in a country where an estimated 1 in 250 people have some form of disability, and no government services provide support. 

The following days will be spend with another local NGO, integrated with a poor, marginalised community. We will undergo repairs of the garden centre and kitchen which all within the community utilize.  This will be a challenging and rewarding project, and over five days, the group will be able to re-construct these vital community structures.  

When not involved in the project, we will go paddle boarding in the mangroves of the Kampot River, take a visit to Rabbit Island in the neighbouring province, explore the Art of Leadership and delve more into the Service Learning syllabus.

Stay: Guest House

Day 15 Phnom Penh

Visit the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum to learn about the Cambodian genocide under the Khmer Rouge. You'll dine at Mith Samlanh’s Friends Restaurant, an NGO that offers vocational training and support for some of Phnom Penh’s 20,000 street kids.

Stay: Hotel

Day 16 Art of Leadership Workshop

Spend a whole day learning about what it takes to be a great leader. Explore what your strengths are, where you can improve and how you are impacting the people around you.

Days 17-22 Elephant Valley Project, Mondulkiri Province

You'll visit the incredible Elephant Livelihood Initiative Environment (ELIE), and the ecotourism program, the Elephant Valley Project, who are striving to make this world a better place for elephants. The Elephant Valley Project is an experience like nothing else; you'll trek into the elephant’s natural jungle habitat, with 1500 hectares of elephant forest, and observe these amazing elephants in their natural environment. No riding, no tricks, no shows & no stress. You'll spend hours walking with them; learning about elephant welfare, their amazing stories and local indigenous culture. 

Days 23 - 24 - Phnom Penh

We further delve into leadership training, alongside some visits to the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, the fascinating Russian Market, and Daughters NGO that provides support and vocational training for women and men rescued from trafficking.

Day 25 NGO Visit Day

Spend a day learning more about social entrepreneurship and what it takes to run a NGO’s in foreign countries. You will visit three different organizations:

PACT: Pact’s newest project in Cambodia, WE Act, launched in 2018, supports young women entrepreneurs to reach their full potential. With a focus on urban-based micro, small and medium businesses owned by women ages 18 to 30, the project is addressing key challenges to their businesses through capacity development, network expansion, information sharing, access to finance and markets and more. 

Friend’s International: Friends-International was born on the streets of Phnom Penh in August 1994. They initially provided services to the street kids found in the Cambodian capital in the aftermath of years of genocide and conflict in the country. The original Friends project, Mith Samlanh, became a local NGO in 1999, and then went on to expand both programs and partnerships in the following years, developing social business and child protection elements to ensure comprehensive and creative solutions and services for all the marginalized youth and communities they now work with. The 17 children whose lives were changed in 1994 have grown to over 130,000 in the ensuing decades, thanks to the innovative partnership model of ‘Together, building futures’.

Impact HUB: Impact Hub is the largest community for entrepreneurs, creatives and techies in the heart of Phnom Penh. They enable entrepreneurs to achieve success through our dynamic programmes, incubators and mentoring and inspire and engage the local community with weekly events and online learning platforms.

Stay: Hotel

Days 26 - 31 - Siem Reap, Ankor Temples

Over the final days of your program, you will head to Siem Reap to explore, as well as view the Phare Ponlu Selpak - a Cambodian community development organisation that was started in refugee camps in the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge, focused on healing through the arts. Further leadership training and a fun cooking class (that funds local children's educations) round up your stay in this region, of course with a full day experiencing the unreal sprawling grounds and temples of the UNESCO heritage site, the Ankor Temples - the largest temple ruins on earth. You'll see the restoration of some temples, and the disintegration of others, as the jungle reclaims them.

Day 32 Service Learning/ Act of Leadership/ Program Wrap

Come together for your last day in Cambodia to wrap all of the knowledge you have learned, shared and experienced along the way. Enjoy a final dinner in town to celebrate your accomplishments and for completing of the Service Learning Leadership program.


This is a sample itinerary. Modules may occur in a different order due to weather conditions or scheduling requirements