Photo of the Week
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Following is a sample itinerary for Dragons' “Cambodia: Studies in Development and Peace” summer program. Our sample itineraries are based on past courses; in order to meet instructor team goals, as well as the goals and interests of particular student groups, itineraries are subject to change. Please keep an eye on the course's Yak board for additional itinerary-related postings and updates.

Weeks One-Two:
Orientation in L.A., fly to Phnom Penh: Gain our bearings in one of the most intense cities in SE Asia. Visit the Killing Fields and the S-21 concentration camps; meet with experts on the Khmer Rouge and interview Khmer Rouge survivors. Visit local markets and begin immediately to study Khmer history, culture, and language. Travel by train to the rural province of Pursat, in western Cambodia: Explore traditional Cambodian culture and community values; study rural development issues with the organization Sustainable Cambodia. Begin Independent Study Projects.

Weeks Two-Three:

Short but rugged journey to Battambang, Cambodia's second largest city: Compare and contrast urban Cambodia with life in the countryside. Travel through the channels of the Tonle Sap ("GreatLake")to Siem Reap: Explore the magical temples of Angkor Wat by bicycle and by foot, and engage in reflective solo time; learn about the art, culture, and history of the ancientKhmer Empire.

Week Three:

Return to Phnom Penh: Enjoy traditional shadow puppetry; meet with prominent politicians, development workers, and historians; make progress on Independent Study Projects. Study of poignant issues facing contemporary Cambodia, such as human trafficking and sex tourism, andlearn about the intense work being done by various organizations toclean up Cambodia's landmine-affected regions. Home-stay and group service projectsin a village north of Phnom Penh, along a tributary of the mighty Mekong River.

Weeks Four-Five:

Return to the Cambodian countryside: Travel along rough roads by truck to reach the start-point of our trek in the remote wilderness of Mondulkiri Provincein northeast Cambodia; watch for endangered wildlife; learnabout ethnic minority issues and discuss the effects of tourism and development in those areas.

Week Six:
Student-directed portion of the itinerary. Options include visits to pepper plantations, a visit to the caves of Kompong Trach, or travel to the Cambodia coast to explore fishingvillages and discuss the environmental and other effects of tourism and development. Independent Study Project presentations. Return to Phnom Penh for last-minute visits to our favorite markets and streetside vendors, and prepare for flight home.

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Cambodia, Summer 2008

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Cambodia: Sample Itinerary

Dragons Administration,Cambodia, Summer 2008

Description

Following is a sample itinerary for Dragons’ “Cambodia: Studies in Development and Peace” summer program. Our sample itineraries are based on past courses; in order to meet instructor team goals, as well as the goals and interests of particular student groups, itineraries are subject to change. Please keep an eye on the course’s Yak board […]

Posted On

10/15/08

Author

Dragons Administration

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    [post_content] => 

Hey guys. I miss ya. Sitting back over the last few days reflecting on the summer has brought me to tears more than once. And it's all because of you. Thank you for such an amazing experience and such an enjoyable summer. What an incredible opportunity it was to work alonside such strong and loving instructors and such bright and fun students. Akun akun akun!

Great photos online guys, I have mine on a personal shutterfly and I'm currently working out how to link it to our groups. I know we've got a few extraordinary photographers in the group and a few of us (including me) probably didn't snap enough pics. This is a great way for us to stay connected to each other and with Cambodia.

I'd like to send out a special thank you to Sam for posting your poem - I knew one day you would share some more of that creativity with us! Liz....you're next. Then Tim....a rap? Maybe Alex can bring her boombox.

Love you all,

Allana

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Cambodia, Summer 2008

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Akun akun akun

Allana Hearn,Cambodia, Summer 2008

Description

Hey guys. I miss ya. Sitting back over the last few days reflecting on the summer has brought me to tears more than once. And it’s all because of you. Thank you for such an amazing experience and such an enjoyable summer. What an incredible opportunity it was to work alonside such strong and loving […]

Posted On

08/17/08

Author

Allana Hearn

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Hello Dragons Cambodia Crew -

It was wonderful to have you visit us at PEPY just before your departure. I had heard from your fabulous instructor team that you group was setting the bar very high for future Dragons trips, and now I know why! I was so impressed with your questions and reflections and I can't wait to hear through the grapevine all of the things you will go on to do with this collection of new skills and increased confidence gained in Cambodia.

I wanted to pass on our website, www.pepyride.org, as I said I would, and invite you to contact us if you have any other questions about our work in Cambodia. I would be delighted to see you out here again some day, so please keep in touch if Cambodia calls you back!

Best wishes for the transition to home, and let me know what new things you find "ridiculous" now that you are back. I know there aren't pigs and stellar karaoke, but I'm sure you have some new things to add to the list!

Congratulations on completing a challenging and hopefully rewarding course!

- Daniela

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Cambodia, Summer 2008

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Thank you for visiting PEPY

Daniela Papi,Cambodia, Summer 2008

Description

Hello Dragons Cambodia Crew – It was wonderful to have you visit us at PEPY just before your departure. I had heard from your fabulous instructor team that you group was setting the bar very high for future Dragons trips, and now I know why! I was so impressed with your questions and reflections and […]

Posted On

08/10/08

Author

Daniela Papi

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Sitting in L.A., with a laptop, a glass of water from the tap, and almost total silence around me, feels very bizarre. There’s an emptiness that all of your departures have left me with, a feeling at the pit of my stomach. I miss your spirit, your energy, your intelligence. I even miss your pestering.

I have spent the last 24 hours marveling at the summer we had. Vignettes of the last 6 weeks have been running through my mind; the taste of Khmai noodles in the morning, the incessant honking in Phnom Penh, the brilliance of monks’ orange robes. And, of course, of all of you, and how much you have all grown. I’ll say it once more- you really did blow us away.

You are masters of using a few Khmer phrases to their maximum and of using smiles to communicate the rest, of eating more rice than is humanely possible, of riding in the backs of pick-ups in the pouring rain, of sitting quietly and with gratitude on the floor of a wat, of riding bicycles down winding dirt roads, and of squatting in a bathroom with spiders and cockroaches as your companions.

Most of all, though, you are masters at opening yourselves up to the unknown.

I feel enormously privileged to have had the chance to travel with you all. Throughout the summer, each and every one of you exhibited remarkable perseverance, kindness, and grace. You have pushed me to look hard at my surroundings, to challenge my assumptions, to cultivate patience and compassion, and to find humor in the tougher moments. Thank you so much.

It may not be clear yet what this summer has meant for you. That’s OK. With time and patience, and some reflection, you will find that you are carrying a world of new insight.

I hope that you can share bits and pieces of Cambodia with your friends and family back home, that you can get them to feel, as much as they can, the sensations that you experienced everyday. Ultimately, though, our group alone understands what we’ve been through. It is an enormous gift that there are 16 people out there with one incredible common thread, a set of experiences that cannot be recreated. We should use each other in the coming weeks, months, years, to process, tell stories, share details about our bowl movements, laugh, and figure out what our summer means for our lives back home. Please know that I am always available to talk.

I challenge you all to continue to experience “beginner’s mind”- to look at home as if you’re seeing it for the first time, as if it is a whole new world ready for you to explore. It can be remarkable how much there is to discover in your own backyard.

I cannot wait to hear about all of your next adventures. And I will treasure deeply the one we shared together.

Finally, one more quote I love by Miriam Beard (I thought the general sentiment, as well as the first word, made it perfect to pass on):

“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”

I send so much love out to all of you.

Alex

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Cambodia, Summer 2008

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Beautiful Girl is still in my head

Alex Kendall,Cambodia, Summer 2008

Description

Sitting in L.A., with a laptop, a glass of water from the tap, and almost total silence around me, feels very bizarre. There’s an emptiness that all of your departures have left me with, a feeling at the pit of my stomach. I miss your spirit, your energy, your intelligence. I even miss your pestering. […]

Posted On

08/10/08

Author

Alex Kendall

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Khmer Poetry

My ISP is about Khmer poetry or at least what I came to learn about it. For starters, most of Khmer poetry has been lost due to the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge destroyed all things they believed individualistic and unfortunately poetry was one of them. However, some poetry has survived. More specifically, poetry by Krom Ngoy, the father of Khmer poetry, has been preserved. He lived from 1865-1936 and was famous for Chapei, a rhyming style of poetry accompanied by a lute. His poems included topics such as daily life, morality, nationalism, and the reppression of people. He's famous for several of his pieces, one of them being Male and Female Law which taught that the relationship between a man and a woman aren't equal. However, as time has gone by in adittion to the influx of different views about gender equality, his work has become less popular. Today, it's possible to visit a statue of him in Pnohm Penh.

After the brief summary of the history of khmer poetry, I read a khmer poem that my host brother gave me as a departing gift. His poem entailed the loss of those he loved and his endearing thoughts of a far away home. He wrote it in a seven syllable rhyming prose in which each rhyme comes at the end of a line and must rhyme with the 1st word of the following line.

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Cambodia, Summer 2008

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ISP

Elizabeth Reeser,Cambodia, Summer 2008

Description

Khmer Poetry My ISP is about Khmer poetry or at least what I came to learn about it. For starters, most of Khmer poetry has been lost due to the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge destroyed all things they believed individualistic and unfortunately poetry was one of them. However, some poetry has survived. More specifically, […]

Posted On

08/7/08

Author

Elizabeth Reeser

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    [post_date] => 2008-08-06 00:00:00
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For my ISP i decided to research the storage and treatment of water in Cambodia and how water is related to the trasmission of disease.

Most families collect water through a rain catchment system that runs from their roof into large stone vats on the side of their homes. These vats hold roughly 20 gallons and are not sealed after being filled. The family uses this water for eveything from bathing to preparing meals. In some areas water is obtained from wells or moving streams but these were much rarer.

Once the water has been collected nothing significant is done to sterilize it. The water is only boiled for meals and drinking water but not for washing clothes people or dishes. Even then the water is never filtered and many macro particles that have been brought down from the roof are present in the water supply. Since the vats are not sealed they become prime breeding grounds for many types of insects but mainly mosquitos. In areas where any mosquito bourn illness is prevelant it is extremely important to reduce the number of potential breeding grounds for mosquitos in order to cut down the population. Some larger villages do have access to sand filters which are quite effective for removing large particles from the water but in smaller more rural villages they are very scarce.

Another problem that arises from the treatment of water is how it relates to sanitation. In many households the bathing area is mainly dirt or mud and rarely dries completly. The puddles that form from the lack of a drainage system breed all types of infectious bacteria and worms that can enter the body.

In terms of plumbing many households do not have a septic tank or cess pool and instead their waste is introduced directly into either the river or the ocean. Since both sources of water are essential for life and they are contaminated by waste. Sewage needs to be stored until it can be broken down and reabsorbed by the earth.

The main problem that comes from the mistreatment of water is the spread of disease. Not only are malaria and dengue fever spread by mosquitos who rely on stagnant pools of water to breed, the lack of purification means that water can contain bacteria and ameobas that can cause many serious GI problems. Also possible is bacterial infections that can be fatal esspecially if left untreated.

Water treatment is essential to a developing country for the health of its people and its natural resources.

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Cambodia, Summer 2008

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Water in Cambodia

Grace Seigle,Cambodia, Summer 2008

Description

For my ISP i decided to research the storage and treatment of water in Cambodia and how water is related to the trasmission of disease. Most families collect water through a rain catchment system that runs from their roof into large stone vats on the side of their homes. These vats hold roughly 20 gallons […]

Posted On

08/6/08

Author

Grace Seigle

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My ISP (Independent study project) on Cambodian fishing focused on both the techniques of catching the fish and how these fish then affect the Cambodian diet and food supply. Fish are an extremely important part of the Cambodian diet with eighty-five percent of protein coming from fish products. This protein is vital to growth and normal development of bones, muscles, and the brain in children as well as the maintenance of health in adults. This is why it is so important for Cambodians to have a steady supply of fish in their diets.

An examination of Cambodian fisheries must divide them into two completely different categories: freshwater fisheries and coastal fisheries. Freshwater fisheries consist of Lake Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater fishery in the entire world, the Mekong River and its tributaries, and small communal ponds and fish farms. These fisheries contain over one hundred and twenty species of fish which are caught and enjoyed mostly on a small, local scale. Fishermen go out in small canoes and use nets to capture all the fish in a given area. These fishermen are highly skilled and can throw the nets in a perfect circle ensuring the widest area is covered so that the maximum number of fish possible can be caught. This net is then dragged into the boat and the fish are then eaten by the family or sold at a local market.

Coastal fisheries are radically different from the small scale of the freshwater fisheries. These are large scale commercial fishing operations with large boats and professional fishermen. Many shellfish are caught here such as lobster, squid, and shrimp, in addition to snapper. These fish are always sold in markets or exported domestically or to Vietnam.

The Mekong River currently faces a lot of polution and daming upstream which currently has a very negative effect on its fish species. China, especially, continues to poor polutants into the River which constitute a conservation threat. Corrupt officials in the federal government and on the local level also constitute a threat to local fishermen along the Tonle Sap as they have been known to sell off areas of the Lake without warning to private investors who charge for permits to enter. Corrupt officials also may charge for permits which do not actually exist. These roadblocks continue to challenge local fishermen, many of whom survive on less than a dollar a day.

With fish playing such an important role in Cambodian life their conservation must be of the utmost importance to the Cambodian government. In the future, the issue of pollution in the Mekong will probably be a major international issue between the countries which lay along the lower Mekong and China. What is for sure, however, is that fish will remain a vital part of the Cambodian diet for years to come and, without them, the country would be radically different.

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Cambodia, Summer 2008

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Fishing in Cambodia

Lorne Schweitzer,Cambodia, Summer 2008

Description

My ISP (Independent study project) on Cambodian fishing focused on both the techniques of catching the fish and how these fish then affect the Cambodian diet and food supply. Fish are an extremely important part of the Cambodian diet with eighty-five percent of protein coming from fish products. This protein is vital to growth and […]

Posted On

08/6/08

Author

Lorne Schweitzer

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Tourism is the most important element of the Cambodian Economy. There are many different facets of tourism that make it difficult to generalize, whether tourism in Cambodia is "bad" or "good". To an untrained eye tourism is a great thing. It brings people and money to the country. After looking deeper, you find that just because that money is coming to the country it doesn't necessarily mean that it is staying, somtimes it goes to not so great place in the country or sometimes it goes to another country all together. From my observations, which I will not claim that I have seen from a trained eye, I see Cambodia catering to three different groups of tourist: Sex Tourist, Luxury Tourist, and Backpackers.

It is amazing that the sex industry in Cambodia is so large that is a destination that people come to only to enjoy its benefits. The sex industry has three main hubs: Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, and Sihanoukville. All three types of tourism can overlap, making it difficult to make generalizations about those who come for taking part in this type of activity. It also seems that some western men come to Cambodia to find companionship. This is evident from the western men that tour the Angkor Wat temples with their Cambodian companions. It is difficult for me to say whether this industry is totally awful. Sure the morals which are displayed by both sides are bad, but in some was it is giving the woman a sufficient income that could not be found anywhere else.

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Cambodia, Summer 2008

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Tourism in Cambodia: A Brief Overview Part 1

Matt Moore,Cambodia, Summer 2008

Description

Tourism is the most important element of the Cambodian Economy. There are many different facets of tourism that make it difficult to generalize, whether tourism in Cambodia is "bad" or "good". To an untrained eye tourism is a great thing. It brings people and money to the country. After looking deeper, you find that just […]

Posted On

08/6/08

Author

Matt Moore

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    [post_content] => I explored how Cambodians show affection for my independent study project. I really thought about this as a project for myself and my interests, and I am still thinking over the experiences I have had and the scenes I have witnessed. All of my research was strictly observational, and I have no concrete facts or any real conclusion. And I'm okay with that. I have specific memories full of different emotions, circumstances, and actions that I can express. I plan on writing a short story, which I will post later. 
    [post_title] => ISP
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Cambodia, Summer 2008

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ISP

Sam Moog,Cambodia, Summer 2008

Description

I explored how Cambodians show affection for my independent study project. I really thought about this as a project for myself and my interests, and I am still thinking over the experiences I have had and the scenes I have witnessed. All of my research was strictly observational, and I have no concrete facts or […]

Posted On

08/6/08

Author

Sam Moog

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Luxury Tourists usually frequent the Sokha Hotel chain, which has locations in the three main tourist cities. In my opinion Sokha dominates this field with there Western-Khmer Fusion hotels and resorts. The SokhaBeach Resort in Sihanoukvilleis a quick get away for the elite that live in Phnom Penh. There were many Asian and European toursist at the Sokha also. What I found most intersting though was that after just opening in a whole wing of the hotelis being renovated and refurbished.A sign that they are not hurting for business. If you come toCambodia only to stay at theSokhaI dontfeel that you get the full Cambodian expirence staying in a place like this it is difficult to expierence the extreme poverty of the streets.

No matter what type of backpacker you areI think that you are more inclined to get the full expirence of Cambodia. There are two types of backpackers those that travel with a backpack on the bus system and those who travel with a backpack using trucks, vans, trains, and the occasional bus. Automatically when you throw your bags into the back of a pickup and jump headfirst into the back with the other people that are already crammed in you have became one of them for those hours to come there is nothing that seperates you from a local. The bus only goes where it needs to and there is no need for a bus to go to a villageminutes off of the national high way and over three small bridges that has no electricity or computers.If you want to get to this place you must leave yourperception of personal space at home. If it gets real rough you might have someones life placed in your hands, because it is your responsibility to hold themon the back of the pick up.It is this type of rugged travel that sets the two groups apart.

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Cambodia, Summer 2008

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Tourism: A Brief Overview Part 2

Matt Moore,Cambodia, Summer 2008

Description

Luxury Tourists usually frequent the Sokha Hotel chain, which has locations in the three main tourist cities. In my opinion Sokha dominates this field with there Western-Khmer Fusion hotels and resorts. The SokhaBeach Resort in Sihanoukvilleis a quick get away for the elite that live in Phnom Penh. There were many Asian and European toursist […]

Posted On

08/6/08

Author

Matt Moore

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