‚ÄúGive a man a fish and he will eat for a day.¬† Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.‚Äù ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†-Chinese Proverb
In 2007, Ben Justus was a student of the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University and sailing around the world with the Spring Voyage of Semester at Sea.¬† Ben‚Äôs experience with SAS made him realize his desire to make a difference in the world.¬† He used that desire paired with his knowledge of the hospitality industry to found EGBOK in Siem Reap, Cambodia.¬† EGBOK (Everything‚Äôs Gonna Be OK) is an international non-profit organization empowering underprivileged young adults with educational training needed to support themselves as hospitality professionals.
Why Cambodia?¬† Approximately 40% of residents in Cambodia live on less than $2 per day, while the tourism industry is exploding.¬† Tourist numbers grew from 1 million in 2004 to 4.5 million in 2014.¬† The growing demand for hotels and restaurants in Cambodia is exceeding the availability of individuals that are properly trained to fill the new positions.¬† EGBOK is working to provide these young adults with the skills necessary to not only fill these positions in demand, but to advance into supervisor and manager positions in the future as well.
EGBOK opened its doors to a group of Semester at Sea students who were on a field program in Siem Reap.¬† Ben told his story and gave a tour of the facilities, including classrooms, a mock hotel suite, kitchen, and computer lab.¬† Then came the real treat however.¬† The Semester at Sea students were introduced to the EGBOK students where the EGBOK students became the teachers.¬† They took the skills they had learned in their classes to teach the SAS group some basics of the hospitality industry.¬† The afternoon and evening of teaching, learning, laughing, and dancing, can only be described in photos (see below), but it was an experience that will not soon be forgotten.
Thank you EGBOK, for showing us the true meaning of hospitality.
For more information on EGBOK, please visit their website: egbokmission.org