I volunteered with Star Kampuchea two years ago and experienced it as a wonderful volunteer program.
I stayed for several weeks and worked as a teacher for english and mathematics in an orphanage in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. I decided to live in a guesthouse during my time in Cambodia, but Star Kampuchea also offers the possibility to live with a host family.
Upon my arrival I was picked up from the airport by a local employee of Star Kampuchea, who told me the first things about his great country. Since I came to Cambodia all by myself and had never been to a developing country before, I was not quite sure what to expect in the first place, despite informing myself about the country and the local habits prior to my departure from Germany.
I was welcomed warmly by the staff of Star Kampuchea and brought to my guest house. On my first weekend in Phnom Penh I met several other volunteers at an event organized by Star Kampuchea, so I met new people very soon.
The first thing on the agenda was a two day introduction seminar that taught us volunteers the most important things about Cambodian culture, language and intercultural exchanges. Star Kampuchea's staff additionally helped us with orienting ourselves, helped us get phone cards and assisted with all other needs. Their friendly service was incredible and I felt it helped me a lot to get a basic understanding of Cambodian society.
After the seminar I started my work at the orphanage. I tought several different classes in english and mathematics and helped with other issues at the orphanage. In the evening I played soccer, volleyball or basketball with the boys in the orphanage or helped the children with their homework. The children were really great and I also became good friends with the other local teachers at the orphanage.
To say that "this experience changed my life" is often an empty phrase these days. However, in my case it is entirely true. After I got back to Germany I founded a non-profit organization to support projects (like the orphanage that I tought at) in Cambodia. We've raised several thousands of Dollars for projects in Cambodia in the meantime. I've traveled to Cambodia two more times since my first time as a volunteer there and have made many, many Cambodian and international friends there. Cambodia plays such a big role in my life today that I think it is fair to say: This experience changed my life and it was one of the greatest things that I ever did.
P.S. Now that I have much more information about Cambodia and more experience in the non-profit sector, I also have better judgement of volunteering programs. I can only say that Star Kampuchea's program is great, because it not only provides an invaluable experience to every volunteer, but also puts the sustainability and the development work first. Unlike the work of other big volunteering companies (Star Kampuchea is a NGO, not a company) that are also listed on abroadreviews.com, Star Kampuchea doesn't sacrifice its development goals for the sake of making profit.
I think that is a very important point that every person, who considers to volunteer should think about before choosing a program!