September 16, 2009

"Scambodia" vs. Intuition

So I'm going to Cambodia in January--kind of on a whim. In the midst of a depressing search for life's answers, I decided to try teaching English abroad. It seems like something I would like: traveling, meeting new people, and getting paid to do it. Unfortunately, it seems that a growing number of my peers are considering the same life-path, which is why I'm so glad I picked Cambodia—nobody else is going there! Ha, suckers going to beautiful developed nations, I'm going to a developing nation that is chock-full of landmines.

"Scambodia," as it was often referred to on the internet, is indeed probably full of scams, especially in the ESL/TESOL realm. It's a risk I have to accept, as I learned today at the bank while trying to wire money to Cambodia for my deposit. I sat across from a banker with an inflamed zit by his nose. I told him the plan and he immediately went into dad-mode. Are you sure this is legit? I was almost offended at his question. First, of course I had done all the checking Google would allow, and second, how the hell should I know?

My bubble thoroughly burst, I conceded that I probably should do some more checking, though I already knew that tracking down this type of organization, especially outside the US, was almost totally impossible. As his fatherly spiel continued, some hyper-reality set in. Suddenly I pictured my empty bank account, me crying in a scary hostel in Phnom Penh, and an archetypal Cambodian monkey ridiculing me for being so naïve. Then I thought, those things will probably happen regardless of CamTEFL. Scam or not, I'm in for an adventure.

My invasive internet search began with the BBB, which as predicted, was absolutely no help, and the small goose chase they sent me on was even less fruitful. For the next hour, it was hit an miss searches of IP addresses, domain names, and known scam lists on various websites.

I am prone to trusting my intuition (some people say I'm stubborn—that's just semantics). CamTEFL is the only ESL program that didn't give me a bad feeling. This program is small, based in Cambodia, and is affiliated with several other volunteer agencies with noble aims. If it is a scam, they have gone to such elaborate lengths to cover it that they deserve my money. Something about the Cambodian Rural Development Team just sounds like a life-changing, soul-enhancing, world-peace-inducing organization that I just can't picture being fraudulent.

Call me naïve, call me stubborn, just don't call me Jenna.

I really need coffee—speaking of, I hear Cambodian coffee is a must-try!