Her travels as a Rotary exchange student may have been the experience that prepared former Sunnysider Emily Shuttleworth for worldwide adventures, but it was a recent mission project that has set her sights on her future life course.
Sharing the memories and photographs of her recent six month visit to Cambodia, Shuttleworth said the country, while beautiful, is still recovering from the devastation of the Khmer Rouge genocide of the mid-1970s.
She said 80 percent of the country’s population is under the age of 30 and 42 percent of the population is under the age of 15.
“There are a lot of small children,” Shuttleworth, a Sunnyside High School graduate, told members of the Sunnyside Daybreak Rotary Club Wednesday morning.
The 2013 Central Washington University graduate journeyed to Cambodia last June to be a part of a Christian mission project. Her mission was to teach English and the Bible in cities and throughout the countryside of the exotic Far East Asian country.
“I taught little children and women over the age of 65,” she noted.
“The women were my favorite (students), even though seeing people that old is a rarity in Cambodia,” she explained.
An early childhood educator, Shuttleworth admits a great fondness for the Cambodian children. In one village she found a cadre of new friends who clamored to her side on her daily walks through the village.
“I found kids to play with by walking down the street,” she said.
“These kids often do not get attention and were not in school. Though there was a language barrier, we enjoyed our time together. It was a great opportunity to love them and show them they are valued,” she explained.
“The last day I was in the village I did a little kids program for them and shared the story of creation, played games and shared a snack.
“I hope I positively impacted them because they sure impacted me,” she told the Rotarians this past Wednesday.
Shuttleworth also had several opportunities to serve various missions throughout Cambodia, including an outreach project in a “closed to the gospel” area nearby.
Shuttleworth, who was a Rotary exchange student to Austria in 2008-2009, said the Rotary slogan “nothing is better or worse, just different” helped to guide her during her trip to Cambodia.
“It helped to prepare me for what I saw in Cambodia,” she said. “Things were not worse or better, just different.”