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    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2010-05-16 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 2010-05-16 06:00:00
    [post_content] => 

Hey everyone,

It's been almost a year since we were all in Cambodia. In some ways it feels like I just left tat-two, but in others it feels like last summer was a lifetime ago.

When I left Cambodia, I pledged I would take the lessons I learned and apply them to my life at home, and for a while I truly did. Lately, however, I've caught myself slipping up.

I just wanted to take a moment and reflect on how much my six weeks in Cambodia have impacted my life this past year, to reaffirm my commitment to being the type of person I want to be, and remind myself how grateful I am for mt experiences in Cambodia.

Akun churan,

Allie

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Cambodia, Summer 2009

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Nostalgia

Alexandra Rawson,Cambodia, Summer 2009

Description

Hey everyone, It’s been almost a year since we were all in Cambodia. In some ways it feels like I just left tat-two, but in others it feels like last summer was a lifetime ago. When I left Cambodia, I pledged I would take the lessons I learned and apply them to my life at […]

Posted On

05/16/10

Author

Alexandra Rawson

WP_Post Object
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    [post_date] => 2010-04-18 00:00:00
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    [post_content] => 

Wow, it's been a little over 8 months since I left Cambodia and I still think about it all the time. This country is full beauty, history, and people who are still unbelievably nice even though they have gone through more difficult times then I can imagine. When I left from LA I had high expectations and I could not stop thinking about what it was going to be like, 'I can't wait to see Angkor Wat, what are the killing fields going to be like, is fresh durien as smelly as people say it is?'. This country answered all ofthose questionsand more; it surpased all of my expectations and it gave me feeling of wonder that I will never be able to forget. Whether I was eating dinner in Psa Orrussey, watching buddhist monks pray at 4:00 in the morning, having dinner with my homestay family, or doing so many other things in Cambodia, I always loved it.

So, on that note, I hope that those of you going to Cambodia this year with Where There Be Dragons love this country as much as I do and know that your instructors will give you an unforgettable experience!

Som aoy samnarng laa-or, Zach

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Cambodia, Summer 2009

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For those going to Cambodia

Zachary Mormann,Cambodia, Summer 2009

Description

Wow, it’s been a little over 8 months since I left Cambodia and I still think about it all the time. This country is full beauty, history, and people who are still unbelievably nice even though they have gone through more difficult times then I can imagine. When I left from LA I had high […]

Posted On

04/18/10

Author

Zachary Mormann

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    [post_date] => 2010-02-01 00:00:00
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The first of my three blessings broke tonight.

At first I was sad. Very sad... For the last 7 months, these braided red strings on my wrists have kept me grounded; they've connected me back to the country I love so much, the lessons that have forever bettered me, and the people I will never forget. They gave me shreds of hope when I needed it most. They allowed me to smile and say, "No, I am not practicing Kabbalah 3 times over" about twice a week. But most of all, they let me look down and remember everything I've been through.

Later, after storing my tattered, dirty blessing in a keepsake box, I decided that I was being rediculous- rediculous "thom thom," in fact. Monks didn't tie these blessings on my wrist in order to make me sad someday... quite the opposite! They put them there to do just as they are called- to be blessings. I should be happy that it brought me back to August 7th, 2009 when I was sitting on a river boat in Phnom Penh, holding a green necklace and crying my eyes out as I showered everyone with compliments.

This blessing breaking was only the first of three... I can't wait for the surge of memories and emotions the next two bring.

June riep lia, Kampuchea.

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Cambodia, Summer 2009

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Blessing

Olivia Jorgensen,Cambodia, Summer 2009

Description

The first of my three blessings broke tonight. At first I was sad. Very sad… For the last 7 months, these braided red strings on my wrists have kept me grounded; they’ve connected me back to the country I love so much, the lessons that have forever bettered me, and the people I will never […]

Posted On

02/1/10

Author

Olivia Jorgensen

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    [post_date] => 2009-07-24 00:00:00
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After a solemn visit to the killing fields yesterday, the group headed to CLA (Cambodia Living Arts), an NGO working with children to preserve the cultural arts that have been all but forgotten during and after the Khmer Rouge regime. The organization employs masters of a specific trade, such as music and dance, to teach students in that trade Monday through Friday for two hours a day. As we file into the practice room we view an array of instruments with their respective players laid out on the floor in front of us. There are three different xylophone type instruments laid out in front, two rings of bells with a person sitting at the center of each, a pair of drums with a small girl sitting behind them, and a single, two sided drum at the back. We were given a short introduction to the program before the musicians began their number. It was it was a delicate piece, with the tinkling of the xylophones, the ringing of the bells, and the soft thuds of the drums. The melody was very abstract and the musicians played the complex and interweaving song with complete harmony. After introducing ourselves to each other and listening to another, equally beautiful song, we were all allowed to try the instruments for ourselves. We listened as the students tried to teach simplified versions of the songs we had just heard. They were extremely difficult and I appreciated their work all the more for it. We had to leave, much too soon I might add, for S-21, and bade them all farewell. After S-21 and a short break in between, we returned to CLA to watch another group of students put on a Cambodian opera. The story was difficult to follow at first, but after we learned the basic premise it became apparent. The story was about a pair of birds. They are very happy together so they build a nest and raise some chicks. One day, however, the father gets trapped in a lotus plant and cannot get food for his family. Their chicks die by the time the father returns and the couple, in their grief, dies along with their children. The story is artfully done and very well acted. Afterwards we all meet the performers and they teach us some basic Khmer dance. They are all cheerful and good tempered. We don't leave until around 9:30 and by the time we arrive at the hotel it is 9:50. Tired and uplifted, I fell asleep almost immediately. It had been an emotionally turbulent day.

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Cambodia, Summer 2009

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CLA

Reed Conway,Cambodia, Summer 2009

Description

After a solemn visit to the killing fields yesterday, the group headed to CLA (Cambodia Living Arts), an NGO working with children to preserve the cultural arts that have been all but forgotten during and after the Khmer Rouge regime. The organization employs masters of a specific trade, such as music and dance, to teach […]

Posted On

07/24/09

Author

Reed Conway

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Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Thank you to each parent, guardian and scholarship provider! Our students are soaring high in Cambodia and the instructors would like to thank you for making available this incredible experience available for Noreen, Allie, Alex, Olivia, Kayla, Genevieve, Dana, Marina, Peter, Daniel, Zach and Reed. They continually express such gratitude to take part in this experience and the instructor team is just thrilled to have such a curious, positive and open group of students. Thank you!

Yesterday we sat the group down in our home away from home in Phnom Penh and poured our hearts out to them with praise. We truly feel this group is reaching highs way beyond our previous expectations. We have watched your daughter, son, friend or student wake up every single day ready to greet Cambodia with a brave smile and the knowledge that today, as everyday, they will constantly be stepping out of the comfort zone. We have watched them take great initiative recently: students identify interests, research NGO's to learn about these passions and actually telephone to set up meetings! They are taking the Roles of the Week (Leader, Water, Sweep, Communicator and Alarm) with the seriousness needed to run an extremely safe and fun program. They are busy planning the student-led itinerary which takes place for five days following the homestay. These instructors have never before given a group such freedom and responsibility in choosing, planning and executing this part of the itinerary and we do it with the utmost confidence in this group. There is no doubt in our mind our students will successfully lead us on an educational, fun and certainly creative trip!

These last few weeks of the program are always my favourite as each students individual and unique leadership style starts to shine. Over the last week we have taken a lot of time processing with each student and discussing their experience. Each student performed a verbal self-assessment of their performance throughout the trip – where they feel they are really shining, where they are at in terms of reaching their personal program goals and ways in which the instructor team can further empower them to take ownership over their course. At this point in the trip they are making informed and responsible decisions on our travel plans, taking the lead in group discussions and contacting Khmers when their interest is piqued. The instructors feel immense pride as our students coast through markets, handle aggressive tuk tuk drivers, and take control of budgets (and stay under budget) as well as plan out details including lodging, lectures, NGO visits and lessons.

More than anything else, though, the students are traveling with their eyes and ears and hearts wide open. They have taken the time to really look around them, to ask the deeper questions about what they are experiencing, and to sit with all the powerful emotions that come with traveling in a place like Cambodia. The sense of presence these students have developed in the last month is phenomenal.

This morning we are heading to Mara’s hometown Prek Pdao. This is an extremely exciting time for the students – they have been briefed on how many brothers and sisters they have, what their parents occupation is and how they will connect with their family with minimal common language. The homestay will be both rewarding and extremely challenging. For the next week, we will be sleeping on straw mats, waking with the early roosters, learning to cook traditional Khmer meals, washing cows in the Mekong, sorting chili peppers, working in the fields, living without electricity, improving their Khmer language skills, learning about Buddhism, napping in hammocks, and experiencing the beauty and difficulty of rural life in Cambodia. It is going to be an emotional ride and we will be sure to keep you posted.

Thank you again for shaping these students into such mature, inquisitive and compassionate adults.

Best,

Mara, Michael and Allana

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Cambodia, Summer 2009

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Performing, exploring and approaching homestays…

Mara, Michael and Allana,Cambodia, Summer 2009

Description

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Thank you to each parent, guardian and scholarship provider! Our students are soaring high in Cambodia and the instructors would like to thank you for making available this incredible experience available for Noreen, Allie, Alex, Olivia, Kayla, Genevieve, Dana, Marina, Peter, Daniel, Zach and Reed. They continually express such […]

Posted On

07/24/09

Author

Mara, Michael and Allana

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    [post_date] => 2009-07-23 00:00:00
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This morning was a challenging morning for the group. We woke up and went to the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center. It was eye-opening and a very raw experience. The millions of sculls and people buried there because of Pol-Pot's regime was a hard thing to take in. Walking through there, it becomes apparent to you that so many people in Cambodia today had to live through that. It happened such a short time ago that it doesn't even feel like history, especially for those who lost family and friends in it. There were extremely challenging points while walking through it such as all of the graves and the fact that they haven't even gone through 7 of the surrounding fields, the killing tree where there would kill children, and the "magic tree" where they hung a loudspeaker so that no one could hear the moans of people being executed. If itwasn't hard enough seeing all of that,there was still bones and clothing from people who had been executed there. After about an hour of walking through it, we all left feeling extremely lucky for what we have.

We then went to CLA (Cambodia Living Arts) where we watched a class on music in Cambodia. It was a type of music that was part of old cultures and they were trying to keep old culture alive in Cambodia. After listening to two songs, they let us play. The group had a lot of fun trying to learn how to play these instruments, which included drums, a scale of gongs, xylophones and more. The kids tried teaching us parts of the music they played for us and I can tell you is a lot harder than it looks and I'm sure they enjoyed laughing at us try.

It was a very full and emotional morning for the group but we all learned and benefited from it a lot.

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Cambodia, Summer 2009

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A morning of the dead and revival

Alexandra Heller,Cambodia, Summer 2009

Description

This morning was a challenging morning for the group. We woke up and went to the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center. It was eye-opening and a very raw experience. The millions of sculls and people buried there because of Pol-Pot’s regime was a hard thing to take in. Walking through there, it becomes apparent to you […]

Posted On

07/23/09

Author

Alexandra Heller

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On Monday we visited Angkor Watt for the first time. I couldn’t believe that I was actually seeing the ancient ruins of Angkor Watt after hearing so much wonderful things about it for such a long time. Many people had told me that no matter what I MUST see Angkor Watt before leaving Cambodia. As soon as we arrived I was overwhelmed by how many tourists there were. I seemed like there were tourists from all around the world. I was incredible to hear the history and tradition of Angkor Watt but it was AMAZING to actually see it.

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Cambodia, Summer 2009

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Angkor Watt

Daniel Campos,Cambodia, Summer 2009

Description

On Monday we visited Angkor Watt for the first time. I couldn’t believe that I was actually seeing the ancient ruins of Angkor Watt after hearing so much wonderful things about it for such a long time. Many people had told me that no matter what I MUST see Angkor Watt before leaving Cambodia. As […]

Posted On

07/22/09

Author

Daniel Campos

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    [post_content] => Siem Reap was a very strange place. Our guest house was across the river away from the tourist part of town, but I never knew Cambodia could feel so western. As soon as we crossed the bridge it was as if we were entering Disney's version of the U.S.A. There were Mexican resturants, ice cream parlors, pizza places, a pharmacy that looked like a Sephora, and some higher end stores. This was not the Cambodia I had been living in for the past three weeks. At first it was cool to be able to buy an ice cream cone, but we had an informal discussion about tourist restuarants versus locally owned and operated and I realized that I didn't come to Cambodia to eat the same food I can get at home or shop in the same kinds of stores. Economically, eating at western owned restaurants or buying from western owned stores does nothing to help or empower average Cambodians. That ice cream cone was a nice treat and it tasted really really good, but I didn't like Siem Reap. It was too weird and too fake and too tempting. I'm glad we were there, but I'm also glad we're now in Phnom Penh. 
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Cambodia, Summer 2009

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Western World

Allie Rawson,Cambodia, Summer 2009

Description

Siem Reap was a very strange place. Our guest house was across the river away from the tourist part of town, but I never knew Cambodia could feel so western. As soon as we crossed the bridge it was as if we were entering Disney’s version of the U.S.A. There were Mexican resturants, ice cream […]

Posted On

07/22/09

Author

Allie Rawson

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    [post_content] => After the Angkor Temples we went to the National Museum in Siem Reap. It was very cool. The museum taught an incredible amount of information about ancient Khmer culture, ideas, and technology and presented the information in a way that was interesting and easy to understand. I didn't expect to like the museum as much as I did, and it felt as though it could belong to any major city in the world. After visiting I felt I understood much more about the Angkor Temples and ancient Khmer cultre than I would have if I had learned it in another format. It was cool to understand a little more about what I had seen at the Temples earlier that day. I know it's silly, but the museum gift shop was also a favorite. There were lots of really cool keepsakes and I know the scarf I bought will remind me of my time in Cambodia whenever I wear it. All in all, a very sucessful day.
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Cambodia, Summer 2009

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National Museum

Allie Rawson,Cambodia, Summer 2009

Description

After the Angkor Temples we went to the National Museum in Siem Reap. It was very cool. The museum taught an incredible amount of information about ancient Khmer culture, ideas, and technology and presented the information in a way that was interesting and easy to understand. I didn’t expect to like the museum as much […]

Posted On

07/22/09

Author

Allie Rawson

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It's 9 o'clock PM. I feel the striking alternation between the warm air and the cold fan breeze across my bugbite-covered skin. Crickets drone out the sound of Khmer infomercials that my host brother, Puch, is mesmerized by as he munches on fresh spring rolls and curry. Sarongs and tshirts hang below a thatched roof and water trickles into collecting basins. Thought it's still early, I feel my eyelids begin to get heavier, as though they are filling up with sand. As I think about rolling into my comfy, pink mosquito net-shielded bed, my mind wanders to think about how this is how families spend EVERY evening- going to soccer practice and then relaxing into their open air homes that contain just the necessities... food, water, and good company. After Pouch explains to me through broken English, a little French, and lots of giggles that the frog that just jumped across my foot is harmless, I consider telling every American to slow down once and awhile because living simply invites you to remember, cherish, covet the gifts and people that surround us every day... but I still think we could do without the frogs.

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Cambodia, Summer 2009

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Imagine this…

Olivia Jorgensen,Cambodia, Summer 2009

Description

It’s 9 o’clock PM. I feel the striking alternation between the warm air and the cold fan breeze across my bugbite-covered skin. Crickets drone out the sound of Khmer infomercials that my host brother, Puch, is mesmerized by as he munches on fresh spring rolls and curry. Sarongs and tshirts hang below a thatched roof […]

Posted On

07/21/09

Author

Olivia Jorgensen

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