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Samantha Abelson

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My name is Samantha Abelson, and I have been a part of the TASSEL family for over 5 years! I
have served as a volunteer, teacher, and fundraiser all throughout high school and I continue to
do so as a freshman in college. I joined TASSEL to learn more about Cambodia and the people
that this organization serves. While meeting the TASSEL families and hearing their stories, there
was a common feeling of understanding and love given by the listeners about the events that took
place, which conveyed our undying support for the family's heartbreak. This among learning
about Cambodia’s tragic history was what motivated me to spread awareness, organize
fundraisers, teach, and do anything in my ability to help. I became a teacher to inspire the
students and show them that I, along with many others, love and care for them. Teaching the
students and teachers over VSee has been some of the best moments of my life, as I have seen
the tangible growth in their English speaking, writing, and reading abilities. The dedication and
commitment that each student possesses is truly indescribable. Many students walk over 3 hours
through the rain and across dangerous roads to enhance their English skills for the sake of their
future and the future of their country.

This summer, I was fortunate enough to travel to Cambodia and meet some of the hardworking
students, teachers, and volunteers that are a part of this big family. Meeting everyone was an
incredibly joyous event filled with laughter, smiles, and endless hugs. The excitement from all
the students was surprising yet very endearing because they continue to be cheerful despite the
challenges they face in their everyday lives. Seeing the conditions in which our students and their
families live was incredibly striking. Their small, damaged homes lacked many necessities such
as access to clean water and food. Many are forced to collect water from nearby rivers and
streams, as well as forage for small animals, such as mice or snails, to eat and sell. Despite their
suffering, their drive and enthusiasm to learn and participate in class persists every day.

One of the most notable things I experienced while I was in Cambodia was the generosity,
selflessness, and kindness of all the Khmer teachers. Seeing firsthand the lengths at which all the
teachers go to for their students and the volunteers is truly inspiring. The teachers have all
sacrificed their lives and devoted themselves entirely to TASSEL and the children by going
above and beyond their duties as a teacher. All the teachers look out for their students and love
them as their own, shown by the amount of work and compassion they put in for each student
and for the prosperity of Cambodia. They are the true heroes of TASSEL.

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