Volunteer Profile: Dan Cocks

We caught up with Dan Cocks, a recent volunteer with This Life Cambodia from the UK based ‘Accounting for International Development’ (AFID) before he headed back to England.

Dan, what made you decide to volunteer overseas?

I am semi-retired, near the end of my career (at least the full time paid employment part), and like lots of other people, became interested in ‘putting something back into society’, using the skills I have developed over my career. I also thought it would be great to do this whilst visiting new countries and cultures that I had not experienced before. I had done this once before, on an assignment for 6 weeks to Malawi and enjoyed it very much.

Why did you choose This Life Cambodia?

This Life Cambodia works in an area – education and children – that is a particular area I like to support, and they are doing this in way that is very supportive of local communities. And I had never visited Cambodia (in fact not even Asia!) so I was interested to experience a new culture.

Can you tell us about your professional background? Do you do any volunteer work at home?

I have spent nearly all my career working as a finance professional in the UK.  The last 3 years I worked for a large UK charity and had done some volunteering in recent years as Treasurer of a small charity.

And your personal background?

I was born in, and have lived my whole life in England. I went to Oxford University to study Mathematics and then went on to work in London and South East England. I am married with three children, two of whom are now out working and one is still at university. My wife is a teacher so unfortunately was not able to join me in Cambodia.

What advice do you have for someone considering an overseas volunteer experience?

It can be a very enjoyable way of visiting a new country and can be more rewarding than just going as a tourist. You meet local people, colleagues at the charity, who can give you a much greater insight into the country than would be possible as a tourist. However, as a short term volunteer you may be spending a significant amount of time on your own so you need to be resilient and prepared to entertain yourself (take a few good books!). It is a good idea to link up, with other volunteers with whom you can meet outside the workplace for meals and socialising.

Anything you would like to share about your specific experience at This Life Cambodia?

I expect every volunteer says this, but the people in TLC have been very welcoming and are a really nice bunch. The main novelty has been getting used to working with people in bare feet!


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