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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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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    [post_date] => 2008-08-07 00:00:00
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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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Consonants are the most intimidating aspect of the Khmer Script to learn. However, it is far less a daunting task to understand then in may initially seem.

The alphabet is broken into two series: First Series and Second Series.

The first series in this case is denoted by ending with -a and the second series with -o. The first series is pronounced with with an "oh" sound (eg. the first letter is pronounced "goh"). The second series consonants are pronounced with an "ow" like in "cow" (eg. the third letter is pronounced "gow").

All the consonants have a "subcharacter." These are miniature characters that are positioned underneath another consonant in order to combine to consonant sounds (eg. if you takethe full "Ka" and put a mini "Ro" underneath it, you get the "Kr" sound as in "Crab").
Now onto dependent vowels...
Dependent vowels are characters that can go under, over, and on top of consonants. Many of the dependent vowels have to sounds. This is to go along with the concept of the two series of consonants. The vowels are identified by their first sound as "'sra'+'first sound'" (so, the first vowel is known as "sra aa").
First series sounds: http://salika.co.jp/khmer/images/khmavow.gif
Second series sounds: http://salika.co.jp/khmer/images/khmovow.gif
The first sound is the sound that goes with a first series consonant while the second sound is used with a second series consonant. So "ga" + "sra aa" = "gaa" while "go" + "sra aa" = "geea."
Please continue to the page titled "Part 3. Independent Vowels, Numerals, and All the Rest."
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Cambodia, Summer 2008

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Part 2. Consonants and Dependent Vowels

Nikhil Mehra,Cambodia, Summer 2008

Description

Consonants are the most intimidating aspect of the Khmer Script to learn. However, it is far less a daunting task to understand then in may initially seem. The alphabet is broken into two series: First Series and Second Series. The first series in this case is denoted by ending with -a and the second series […]

Posted On

08/6/08

Author

Nikhil Mehra

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The Khmer written script is an old and beautiful form of writting descended from the Sanskrit "Devanagari" script of the Ancient Angkor Empire, which reigned over Cambodia and much of the surrounding land from the 9th to the 15th century. It is a relatively simple script with a few tricks.
The Khmer Script has 4 basic componants:

1. Consonants

2. Dependent Vowels

3. Independent Vowels

4. Numerals
Please continue to the page titled "Part 2. Consonants and Dependent vowels."
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Cambodia, Summer 2008

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Part 1. Introduction to the Khmer Script

Nikhil Mehra,Cambodia, Summer 2008

Description

The Khmer written script is an old and beautiful form of writting descended from the Sanskrit "Devanagari" script of the Ancient Angkor Empire, which reigned over Cambodia and much of the surrounding land from the 9th to the 15th century. It is a relatively simple script with a few tricks.The Khmer Script has 4 basic […]

Posted On

08/6/08

Author

Nikhil Mehra

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    [post_content] => For my ISP, I chose to research maternal healthcare in Cambodia. My research was divided into two main parts: the week I spent observing my home-stay mother, a nurse, in Prek Pdao and my visit to the Sihanoukville Public Hospital to watch a birth. Retrospectively, I think that, more than anything, my ISP research just opened up more questions for me. I set out with a list of questions I wanted answered. Some of them I found answers to; some of them I didn't. The research really enforced for me the concept that it is the journey and not the destination that counts. Originally, I wanted to find out the average number of births per Cambodian woman, the cost and availability of pre-natal care, the ratio of female to male healthcare workers in Cambodia, etc. What I found out was so much more valuable. I envisioned my research taking one path. It took another and I am glad it did.I wanted to consider the differences between the American and Cambodian healthcare systems. I was not interested in the obvious... the fact that, as a gross simplification, America enjoys state-of-the-art facilities, unparalled equipment, and the best doctors; in short, what the vast majority of Cambodia lacks. It was not this ostensible difference, but rather the difference in psychology that interested me. My entire experience with the American healthcare system has been documented, sanitized, monitored... We surround our personal health with such privacy, almost as if it were sacred. Here, the guest house owner, a recent acquaintance, will openly ask if you have diarrhea. Women receive routine injections in their buttocks with family members, friends, and neighbors looking on. And the space in which health needs are attended to is different. In America, the hospital is a space entirely dedicated to improving health, almost sacred in its sterilized simplicity. In Cambodia, IVs are set up under stilted houses with cows in the background and babies are delivered on straw mats in the family home. Personal health is deeply integrated into daily life. From what I have been able to observe, medicine here is a matter-of-fact business that appears, in my Western eyes, devoid of emotion. In America, personal health carries a host of emotions: fear, dread, sadness, relief, joy. Not so in Cambodia. It was not acceptable for a six-year-old girl to cry as her wound was cleaned no matter how much pain she may have been in. A new mother did not smile upon seeing her child for the first time. Health is health. Emotion is emotion. My research led me to consider emotions in a new way, less as natural impulses and more as privileges. By allowing ourselves to feel emotions, we are indulging ourselves. It is a luxury not everyone can afford. We can afford to be egocentric. We expect a certain level of comfort in our hospitals. People here, I imagine, do not. It’s a cultural necessity.  

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Cambodia, Summer 2008

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Maternal Healthcare in Cambodia

Luisa Elizabeth Sperry,Cambodia, Summer 2008

Description

For my ISP, I chose to research maternal healthcare in Cambodia. My research was divided into two main parts: the week I spent observing my home-stay mother, a nurse, in Prek Pdao and my visit to the Sihanoukville Public Hospital to watch a birth. Retrospectively, I think that, more than anything, my ISP research just […]

Posted On

08/6/08

Author

Luisa Elizabeth Sperry

WP_Post Object
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    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2008-08-06 00:00:00
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    [post_content] => 

As the drivers floor to clear the intersection, rival caravan cascade from every direction. Sacks of rice, families of people, chickens and pigs crammed in every free space make load of these competing vehicles. Bicyclists make haste as well, veering in and out of every nook and cranny just to find their place amidst the chaos. For pedestrians, getting across the city to market can mean playing full-time frogger. A chorus of horns, engine purrs, and loudly negotiated rickshaw fares sets the soundtrack to this all. This is the heartbeat of industrial Cambodia. Without it, getting from Point A to Point B would be a simple, familiar, ordinary task. But as with many things in this country, such is never the case.

Cambodia's transportation infrastructure is made up of 36,000 km of highway (50% paved, 50% not-so-paved), 603 km of railway, 3,700 km of waterway, and two major shipping ports. Much of the well-being of Cambodia depends on this infrastructure, whether it be for the purpose of communication, moving of goods, or safety. And like much of the developing world, Cambodia is no exception in that the conditions of these passes are often uncertain at best.

During the time that I have spent here, I have learned a great deal about what transportation has to say for development and ways of life. I can list the numerous modes of transit I have taken (Tuk-Tuk rickshaws, pickup trucks, bamboo trains, bicycles, pony wagons, vans, minibuses, fishing boats, and more), contemplate the number of hours I have spent getting accross Cambodia (possibly enough to fill days), and speculate the various ways that all of this has effected me physically (i'm becoming an expert at managing crammed spaces).

But there is a greater picture that all of these different ideas help to paint. Cambodia is a country in which the human will is tested to the point of realizing its full capacity. It's in those definitive moments-- when a person steps out into the field of cascading vehicles, or hops on the back of a pickup truck that already grew full about ten people ago, or climbs aboard a rickety bed of bamboo that will certainly move no faster than a jog's pace-- that the determination of a naturally migrant being is stretched to its fullest, and then some more. The heartbeat of Cambodia then becomes the heartbeat of the individual.

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Cambodia, Summer 2008

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Cambodia: From Point A to Point B

Adam Brooks,Cambodia, Summer 2008

Description

As the drivers floor to clear the intersection, rival caravan cascade from every direction. Sacks of rice, families of people, chickens and pigs crammed in every free space make load of these competing vehicles. Bicyclists make haste as well, veering in and out of every nook and cranny just to find their place amidst the […]

Posted On

08/6/08

Author

Adam Brooks

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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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