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PARTNERSHIP: Pacific Ridge School Cambodia


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June 7th

After a great night of food, terror, dancing, and the seemingly never-ending loud music, it was time for our last meal on the island.  I woke up at 5:30 after a restless night.  I heard the rhythmic breathing of my roommate Lynnlee, who was completing her last set of crunches.  Our homestay mom walked over to our section of the house and poked at the two mosquito nets sticking out.  After I found out that Lynnlee and I are guests 576 and 577 at her house, I thought that we didn’t mean anything to her.  However she asked Lynnlee and I to write our names on the pictures we left with her.  Afterwards, she proceeded to pinch our waists and sent us off for breakfast.  Breakfast consisted of fried ramen noodles with our beloved morning glory.  We also had our last few bites of those delicious baguette French toasts.  As we finished chomping on our last few slices of apple on the island we walked to Hannah and Namu’s house to get on our boats.  We were greeted by our homestay parents.  As Yut and Meng translated what our homestay parents were saying to us, some Pacific Ridge students were caught teary-eyed.  Wait, let me take that back, it was just Hannah.  However everyone else was crying on the inside.  I myself felt emotional when my homestay mom pinched my waist one last time.  As we separated into two boats, we started waving goodbye.  We realized soon after that our boats were moving too slowly, making the wave goodbye really long and awkward.  But we got through it and soon started our long journey to our next destination: Siem Reap.  Our journey on the air conditioned bus covered the plains and cities of Cambodia.  We stopped for fruit, snacks, and bathrooms.  Lunch consisted of fried rice, tofu, vegetables and smoothies for some.  We all felt pretty gruntled after eating at an air conditioned setting after some days of fighting off ferocious gnats and flies.  After lunch, we got back onto the bus and started chilling.  I’ll report back once something exciting happens.

---

We started singing “Teenage dirtbag”.  We’re still on the bus.

---

We finally arrived at our living quarters.  We are staying at a meditation space.  We headed off to dinner where we were able to pick our own food.  While a few of us chose Cambodian dishes, many of us opted for the rare appearance of raw salads.  We then got the opportunity to visit three night markets before taking tuk tuks back home.

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PARTNERSHIP: Pacific Ridge School Cambodia

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June 7

Angela,PARTNERSHIP: Pacific Ridge School Cambodia

Description

June 7th After a great night of food, terror, dancing, and the seemingly never-ending loud music, it was time for our last meal on the island.  I woke up at 5:30 after a restless night.  I heard the rhythmic breathing of my roommate Lynnlee, who was completing her last set of crunches.  Our homestay mom walked over to our section […]

Posted On

06/10/16

Author

Angela

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June 8th

After a night of sleep we woke and prepared ourselves for a long day of cycling and sightseeing.  We were finally getting the opportunity to go and see Angkor Wat.  The fallen city was beautiful and full of history.  As I walked through the city, I felt empowered.  Some may say it was because of the exhaust caused by the bike ride to the temple, some may say it was because of the breeze. Regardless of the true reason, just being at one of the world’s most unique places inspired me to explore Cambodia’s past.  After walking through Angkor Wat the gang and I headed over to a touristy restaurant.  There we were spoiled with bruschetta, vegetable curry, and chicken satay.  Although the drinks were on the most expensive side, a few of us decided to splurge and indulge in the sweet fruit juices.  After spending time in the air conditioned restaurant we resumed our tour.  We biked around 2 kilometers to Bayon.  Yut told us to slow down when we saw monkeys and feed them.  Just kidding.  While we did see many monkeys, we were warned to stay away.  Howefver that does not mean that we didn’t take pictures and videos.  Anyways, after biking past monkeys and through the Angkor gates we made it to Bayon.  This temple was filled with many faces hidden in the building.  While some were easier to find than others, everywhere we could turn and spot a face.  Afterwards, our energy levels were low so we decided to bike back.

Now, I haven’t gone into much detail about our bike rides.  However, something happened on our way back. Let me preface the bike ride conditions.  It’s about 20 kilometers and for the most part we shared the road with buses, motorbikes, tuk tuks and other cyclists.  While we all made it to our destination, the route back was not as smooth.  As we were biking back, I (Angela Ding) got into a little accident.  A woman on a motorbike tried to cut a corner.  Unfortunately, that also meant that she also had to cut me.  She swerved and my front wheel hit her back wheel.  I toppled over—with grace apparently—and ended up on a Cambodian street. Alarmed, everyone behind me stopped and the local shop owners were all alarmed.  I was taken off the street and pulled onto the sidewalks.  Many shop owners ran up with various types of ointments.  I didn’t need any though, escaping with only a scratch on my left knee and some developing bruises.  I was taken aback however by the quick response of the PRS faculty and WTBD guides and by the local Cambodians.  Everyone sprung into action immediately and I was able to leave practically unharmed.  I was upset about not being able to finish the bike ride, but the tuk tuk home was well-needed.  After the journey, we had some down time and were surprised with two hours of free time for dinner in groups in town.  We all split off for dinner and went shopping and to the night markets.  We thought that was the end, but we were all treated to ice cream and sorbet by our own Mr. Bray.  After that we tuk tuk’d back to the city and called it an early night.

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PARTNERSHIP: Pacific Ridge School Cambodia

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June 8th

Angela,PARTNERSHIP: Pacific Ridge School Cambodia

Description

June 8th After a night of sleep we woke and prepared ourselves for a long day of cycling and sightseeing.  We were finally getting the opportunity to go and see Angkor Wat.  The fallen city was beautiful and full of history.  As I walked through the city, I felt empowered.  Some may say it was because of the exhaust […]

Posted On

06/10/16

Author

Angela

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    [post_content] => On accident, I woke up early...instead of the usual 5:30, I woke up at 4:30. However, I did not wake for nothing.  On making my way to the showers, I looked outside off the balcony to see a beautiful sunrise spraying hues of pinks, oranges, and blues.  The trees looked like silohettes and everything was silent. As I went back to my "room," the bright sunrise continued to shine through the window casting a golden glow. Once I finished getting ready I sat down to write and glanced up to notice three little girls eyeing me curiously from the staircase. They came down one-by-one to say hello and see what I was doing. The sound of roosters and barking (from both dogs and geckos) continued as I realized this old be our last day on the island. I looked to my left and saw Meng riding his bike, then a few moments later I looked again to see Yut peddling as hard as he could with Ms. Bahn as a passenger. Once Juliana and I got to the community house, we ate breakfast (at 6:30am these days to get the day started before it gets too hot), which consisted of omelets, baguette slices, and fresh fruit.

Directly afterwards, we headed right back to our homestay where Juliana and I helped to cut cabbage and peel garlic along with Cot-Ma (the grandson of our homestay mother), who did more harm than help as he threw the garlic and tried to make us play. Once we finished cutting, we fried the garlic and put the egg in the pan to make an omelette.  We did the same to the cabbage, but added some salty tamarind paste.  Quickly, our homestay mother grabbed Juliana and me by the arms and motioned for us to undress and to put on these heavily beaded tops, a sarong, and a delicate white kroma.  We were hesitant at first, but decided, "Why not."  They were itchy and hot while we walked towards the school to deliver the food we made to two monks Ina communal ceremony. When Juliana and I got there, we expected to find others dressed like us...instead, we discovered that we were the most decorated. Our homestay mother proudly showed us off, and the monks and elders actually thought we were Cambodian!  After the ceremony, which consisted of chanted prayers, stares, and smiles, we each headed back to our homestays to eat the delicious food we had helped prepare with our respective families.  Juliana and I had cabbage, rice, ham, banana chips, and omelette, and enjoyed with our homestay dad while our mother sat next to us motioning for me to eat more because my arms are too skinny!  I think it was one of the best meals I've had on this trip. It was authentic and flavorful, and Jules and I ate to our heart's content.  When Carcuta (our homstay grandmother) came home, our mother gave us a guest book to sign, which is a record of all the people who had stayed in the house (our house is the Village Chief's house).  That made us numbers 236 and 237, respectively. :)  we spent the next couple of hours making origami crafts and teaching bits of English to the kids.

At around 1:00, we all met up at the community house again to discuss how we could thank our homestay families and our CRDT leader, Meng.  We made cards and thought about skits we could perform.  Then we headed to the Village Chief's house (our house) to continue our work on the garden. Lynnlee, Juliana, and Dana watered the planter beds while everyone else started to sow the seeds.  I worked on painting a sign while four little girls tried to guess which letters I was going to paint next.  Once we finished planting and watering, we took a look at the garden we had created - it was wonderful! The Village Chief said that he would think of us every time he saw it.

We then headed back to our houses to briefly to clean up, and then all went to the community center to have dinner and play games with our homestay families and students.  Our homestay dad came directly from his farm to see us. After eating, we lined the homestay families up on one side of thee floor and Pacific Ridge people on the other, and gave our thanks to them. I noticed a couple of homestay parents/siblings crying, too. It was the perfect send off and the moment we realized what an amazing opportunity this has been...something that shall last a lifetime and never be forgotten.

Oh, did you think this was over? We also thanked Meng, our amazing CRDT leader who stayed with us for all six days on the island (he was supposed to leave after 4 days but we begged him to stay). We are so glad and lucky to have heard his insight and to have him accompany us on our journey. We will never forget you Meng!

After another 15 minute bike ride, we headed to the local elementary school for a dance party that really only consisted of little kids, us, and some flies dancing around the lights. We learned some traditional Cambodian dance moves courtesy of Yut and Maryann.  From there we heard "Rolling in the Deep," and Meng's favorite - Celine Dion's "The Power of Love."  But as soon as the clock hit 8:00pm, it was time to head home and the magic wore off as we all sweatily peddled back to our homestays. It turns out the party isn't over for the locals...hopefully the music will stop soon.  Everything has to start over again in the morning for us tomorrow.
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PARTNERSHIP: Pacific Ridge School Cambodia

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Day 9, June 6

Mirai Patel,PARTNERSHIP: Pacific Ridge School Cambodia

Description

On accident, I woke up early…instead of the usual 5:30, I woke up at 4:30. However, I did not wake for nothing.  On making my way to the showers, I looked outside off the balcony to see a beautiful sunrise spraying hues of pinks, oranges, and blues.  The trees looked like silohettes and everything was silent. As […]

Posted On

06/7/16

Author

Mirai Patel

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This morning we started with a nice light breakfast of fresh bananas, apples, dragonfruit, Cambodian French toast and fried potatoes.  Everybody seems excited to continue working on the garden plot, especially since it is the last day.  Yesterday I was lucky enough to be nominated by Yut to work on a tag team with a local man in order to wrap our green landscaping fence around the log supports that had previously been set up.  The fence roll was far heavier than I had anticipated and the local man and I exchanged laughs, thank you’s, grunts, and I’m sorry’s (also in my smooth Khmer accent).  Setting up the fence was a wonderful experience but it was quite exhausting and my shirt likely tacked on a few extra rounds of sweat.  I am very excited to continue working on the garden---when we finish breakfast.

---

We are part way through the farm work for today. Dana, Juliana and I spent a good bit of time churning pig, cow, and chicken manure into what I thought was a gorgeous fertilizer pile, although that may be my Indiana farm boy alter-ego speaking.  Today has probably been my favorite day for the garden work, as it reminded me a lot of being at a 4-H fair in Indiana, with the smells, smiles and human-livestock interaction.  I got to say hi today to my favorite sow as I carried big pans of manure from outside her pen to the pile.

After working, the young homestay daughters and the chief’s son enjoyed an intense few games of musical chairs with our very own disc jockey Meng.  After a tie breaker game of ghost, little girl and monk (the Cambodian version of rock, paper, scissors) that crowned one of the daughters the winner of our last round , the girls enjoyed teaching their version of patty cake.   Dana and Maryann taught the girls head, shoulders, knees, and toes and they taught us a similar song and dance that went something along the lines of “Hello it’s nice to see you, I am happy to be with you, la la la la la la….” Or something that that effect.

I have learned that while the immaculate heat and sweaty humidity may sap our energy after minutes of activity, the kids here seem to run on solar power---and just when you think finally you will get a break at night, they turn on the afterburners.  Also, telling them that you are tired and want to sleep doesn’t do much for convincing the little ones that playtime is over.

---

We are now eating a little American appetizer (crackers and peanut butter) to cure a little bit of our homesickness.  Today at lunchtime we are learning three new ways of Buddhism.  The ways of the day are: right action, right livelihood, and right effort.  Yut explained how anyone could feel like a prisoner when they slip into an environment where they feel trapped or confined, but anyone can choose to leave that state where they feel trapped.  Sometimes, people also slip into an environment where they attempt to sink or lessen others wellbeing.  Other times, people may act as a passenger, being passive and going with the flow, not objecting to the actions of others.  Last, people can act as a participant, adding to the situation at hand.  These 4 P’s represent the four general modes of thought we can be in during our time on the trip: the prisoner, the pirate, the passenger, and the participant.  Maryann explained how we can try to be aware of how we are influencing and appearing to others.

Following lunch, we all got into small groups and brainstormed causes of poverty at home. We worked to think about what driving forces are behind poverty—such as why gentrification occurs so easily in areas with lower housing prices.  Afterwards, with some help from Ms. Bahn, Maryann, and Mr. Bray, each group came up with some solutions or treatments to try and alleviate poverty at home.  We then talked about how this connected to Cambodia.  This activity made me realize how intricate and multidimensional the instigating powers of impoverishment really are.

On a lighter note, the group and yours truly just returned from a water-borne excursion that I won’t forget for years to come.  First, we took boats with three people each (and a local captain, of course) to a little island west of Koh P’dao.  There, Yut and Meng taught us how to cast a large fishing net and Mr. Bray himself was able to catch a huge catfish.  Or maybe it was a little minnow…

Regardless, the group rejoiced knowing we would have a fisherman in the event we ended up stranded on the island.  Swimming and trying in vain to handfish little sandfish were activities I enjoyed taking part in, even if I could barely see the fish while Kylie could spot them meters away as they ran over my empty palms.  After a little bit of time and about ten music genres of songs (courtesy of Mr. Bray) we departed in search of the Mekong River dolphins.  It was amazing how little time it took for the locals to spot a pod of the dolphins.  Watching one of the few remaining species of cetacean, and one native to one river in the world, swimming in silence, was an incredible experience , and I was probably much more excited than a teenage boy should have been, but I’m okay with that.  The funniest part of likely this entire trip came after the boats turned back towards our village shore.  Our captain and I had been secretly communicating with each other and rocking the boat back and forth together, simply because of the response it evoked from Juliana.  After a few rocking sessions, the captain caught onto what a few words being said meant and he proceeded to rock the boat with me once more, except this time he screamed (in English) “oh my god!  Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!” in quite an impressive Juliana voice.  I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time and I doubt he had either.  (For those worrying, Juliana’s pleas were always followed with her laughter and it was all in good fun).  Later, during dinner, Juliana and I were buying snacks underneath the house our group eats at and our captain from earlier happened to be there.  As he saw Juliana, his jaw dropped and he ran over yelling “stop it!” laughing.  After, we had dinner and laughed and talked the night away.

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PARTNERSHIP: Pacific Ridge School Cambodia, Uncategorized

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Farmboy

Carl,PARTNERSHIP: Pacific Ridge School Cambodia, Uncategorized

Description

This morning we started with a nice light breakfast of fresh bananas, apples, dragonfruit, Cambodian French toast and fried potatoes.  Everybody seems excited to continue working on the garden plot, especially since it is the last day.  Yesterday I was lucky enough to be nominated by Yut to work on a tag team with a local man […]

Posted On

06/5/16

Author

Carl

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I awoke to a chorus of strangled rooster cries.  The initial darkness of the room disoriented me until I realized my host mom had closed our windows in preparation for an alleged storm the night before.  In spite of all her thoughtful actions, the storm never really came:  another worrying testament to the drought in Koh P’dao.  I have never so often considered my own—and my nation’s—impact on the environment and its direct effect on other countries.  When living in a village both swelteringly hot and dry, I find myself feeling almost guilty for overlooking such an imminent disaster.

Every joy I have experienced here—and trust me, there have been many---has been coupled with a reflection or reevaluation of some sort.  For example, as Mirai and I sit under our houses reading and journaling, respectively, a steady stream of children passes by in front of us.  Many are, as usual, exceptionally friendly.  They offer waves and smiles and the occasional boisterous “Hello!”  However, most often the older kids have less of an opportunity to greet us with the same vigor.  The only middle school is outside of Koh P’dao, requiring a much longer bike ride.  This is a reminder of the problems that still plague education. However, my time on this trip has allowed me to expand my scope of questioning.  Before addressing the lack of a high school on the island, we should first question whether there is sufficient funding for teachers so they don’t have to charge their students to be able to live a decent life.   Before assuming that a school is the biggest need, we should first consider:  are families economically stable enough that they would be able to send their students to school in the first place?

On a lighter note, my five year old homestay’s grandson came over to play.  With him, he carried a frisbee full of toys---mini skateboards, bouncy balls, and a Dodger’s beanie baby. With a show of strength, he ripped off the tag on his toy and gifted it to Mirai and I—one half for each of us.  As we left for breakfast, he initially professed his disappointment with a loud “No!”, which quickly turned into a smile and a wave.This morning marks a halfway point in our homestay.  Breakfast consisted of fried rice noodles, fried bread, and Nescafe.  As we reconvened at the table we recapped each of our respective nights at our homestays, which were full of kids, mosquito bites and good, fulfilling sleep.

After finishing breakfast off with Cambodian donuts made with a sugar glaze and sticky rice, we headed off to continue our work with the vegetable garden.  In downtime afterwards, we elected to take walks, play cards, nap and enjoy the gentle breeze that thankfully decided to join us on the island.  Our Khmer lesson of the day consisted of words such as “go,” “school,” and “tired.” With language lessons we also learned more about Cambodian culture.  Here, a direct address of “you” can be impolite and an honorific of older or younger is more appropriate.  In Buddhism, through our “way of the day” lesson, we discussed how judgment can be “put away in our pockets” (with a lot of effort) to create a space for “right speech”.

After a lunch of curries, vegetables and sweet dragonfruit we biked to the community center to meet with a women’s savings group, a project of CRDT that looks somewhat like microfinance.  Microfinance is traditionally known as when an organization or group lends money to an individual or small enterprise to develop their business.  We began with a discussion of how such MFIs often harm more than help, as they often make a lot of profit off beneficiaries.  Statistics and facts such as how an average interest rate on loans are 2.5-3% per month served to remind that the glossy images that international organizations such as Kiva paint of MFIs are not necessarily representative of how effective they are.  The discussion invited us to reevaluate who our foreign aid really benefits and again to emphasize that perhaps the less satisfying, slow-moving development projects could be more effective.  However we were also reminded that these issues are not unique to what we deem to be “developing” countries.  MFIs in Cambodia are also remarkably similar to what happens in the US from predatory credit companies to the 2008 mortgage crisis. Ultimately the point we were left with was to always question.

The women’s savings group operated differently than arguably more ineffective MFIs.  This locally run group, encouraged by CRDT, pools their own money that later can be used as loans.  In these groups, no outside person is making profit—those involved are the ones who benefit from interest on loans.  Now a 23-person group, they have never had anyone not be able to pay back the loan in time.  Only members are allowed to access the money they’ve saved and earned through interest, allowing for more familiarity and understanding of the circumstances they all face.  All four of the women seemed enthusiastic about explaining the way their groups functioned.

After the savings group came and visited we spent our downtime with silly games and general fun.  When we reconvened, Yut challenged us to spend thirty minutes meditating over our five senses.  My own meditation was interrupted by the return of my homestay’s rascal of a five year old.  At first, I resisted calls to play in favor of a quiet reflection, but his tugging at my hand and toothy, almost mischievous smile won me over.  He pulled me to the river, there the sun was casting its last yellow-white rays over the Mekong.  There, he pulled us through the shrubbery with the plant life cracking at our feet and into a construction site. The smells of lumber, the springiness of the wood we balanced upon, the grubbiness of his hand against mine, the taste of dirt, and the sounds of birds flitting through the air are all what I focused upon.  Although a wild romp through the brush was not the reflection I expected, I learned that letting go of preconceptions is part of being a better traveler and a better citizen of the world.  After all, climbing with him onto a pile of soft mulch and gently patting a bean plant into the ground that he had just ruthlessly ripped out of the ground moments before, is an experience I would not want to miss.

After a satisfying dinner, we retired for the night with only eager expectations for what the next day would bring.

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Life in Kho Pdao

Juliana,PARTNERSHIP: Pacific Ridge School Cambodia

Description

I awoke to a chorus of strangled rooster cries.  The initial darkness of the room disoriented me until I realized my host mom had closed our windows in preparation for an alleged storm the night before.  In spite of all her thoughtful actions, the storm never really came:  another worrying testament to the drought in Koh P’dao.  I have […]

Posted On

06/4/16

Author

Juliana

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    [post_date] => 2016-06-03 17:37:04
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    [post_content] => 

After our second night on the island we met up at the community center for an early breakfast of fried rice, noodles, and fried bread.  By unanimous decision, we’ve decided to segregate the vegetarians from the carnivores.  Oh, and these palm fruit rice muffins are great.

During breakfast we had a Q&A with Meng to learn more about CRDT’s modus operando for service projects.  One of the things they do to keep their projects sustainable is requiring a contribution from the beneficiary.  This gauges the interest and the willingness of the beneficiary to use the project and maintain it.

We finished up what we could at nine, and had free time to jump in the river, explore the island and spend time at our homestay. We reconvened at the community center at 11 after having thought about sustainable eating and our own habits.  We learned some much more needed Khmer and learned about Buddhism before we enjoyed a lunch of lotus root spring rolls and fish strew. We continued our discussion of sustainable eating and shared experiences of injustice to prepare us for an interview session with a former Khmer Rouge member, which we had after lunch.

An interesting thing that came up during conversation was that often we try to justify or rationalize our actions during times we may have been complicit in inflicting injustice, either by being an active offender or a passive bystander.

The former Khmer Rouge member shared that he never agreed with the ideologies but complied out of fear for his own safety.  He tried not to report cases of rebellion to the higher ups.  An interesting thing to note about this testimony was his opinion/perspective on the Khmer Rouge tribunals.  According to him, bringing those affiliated with the Khmer Rouge to trial was not only expensive and wasteful, but also goes against traditional Buddhist values, as it seeks vengeance for wrongdoing.  As we say, an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

After some more downtime (which I spent running away from wasps and taking naps), we considered six different perspectives on the nature of wealth and poverty.  During this conversation we heard thunder roll overhead, but much to our disappointment, no monsoon.  After deciding on a discussion question, “how do we define poverty?” we transitioned into a dinner of beef with lime sauce and chicken stew.  Some take aways from our dinnertime conversation:

-Poverty is multidimensional and many aspects aren’t quantifiable

-Access to options and choices allow for a higher quality of life

-Can a positive outlook trump material wealth?  Is the ability to maintain positivity equated to wealth?  If we say that money doesn’t matter and it is happiness that does, would we be wiling to move anywhere in the world?

-Historically the world’s poorest people lived in the poorest countries, but that’s not the case today.  Most live in middle income and higher income countries today.

-Can redistribution of wealth work?

-You can’t pity of belittle the way of life that might be simpler, but at the same time you can’t romanticize it.

We went into these conversations knowing we wouldn’t find any answers, but I look forward to discussing these topics in the days to come.

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Update from Kho Pdao

Christian Yun,PARTNERSHIP: Pacific Ridge School Cambodia

Description

After our second night on the island we met up at the community center for an early breakfast of fried rice, noodles, and fried bread.  By unanimous decision, we’ve decided to segregate the vegetarians from the carnivores.  Oh, and these palm fruit rice muffins are great. During breakfast we had a Q&A with Meng to learn more […]

Posted On

06/3/16

Author

Christian Yun

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    [post_date] => 2016-06-02 22:12:55
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I got out of bed around 5:30 and after laying in bed for a while I listened to the roosters and the occasional motorbike.  I am sleeping on a thin pad on the ground and used a sarong I brought to cover up.  My homestay partner, Namu, wasn’t awake yet so I went downstairs.  I washed a few more clothes.  My homestay consists of three women and a man.  I don’t know their relationships to one another, but the oldest woman came over to help me, as she did yesterday. She said a phrase to me, then repeated it.  I have no idea what it meant, in fact it could have been English, so I just copied her and smiled.  To provide a little background on the setting, the house is sandwiched between the river and the dirt road we have been biking on.  I haven’t been from the house to the water, but will do that after I write.

The house, like most all houses on the island, is on stilts.  The second story is one room but has divisions made by lines and blankets or sheets.  I slept on the left side of the doorway, Namu on the right.  Namu and I have mattresses, and I’m not sure what exactly our host family sleeps on, but its on the ground (as in, not in a traditional bed).  They have surrounded our beds with mosquito nets for us.  Underneath the house, the ground is a fine dirt.  There are hundreds of chicken footprints.  The chickens are scrawny and awkward and funny. There are a few dogs and cats as well.  This morning I watched a dog eat an eggshell.  I’m not sure if they are pets in the traditional sense of ownership and/or if they all roam freely around the island.  They look like puppies because they are very cute and very small.  The cats look like the cats at home and also upstairs.  While we are on the topic of living things, I should mention that there are a ton of bugs.  SO MANY.  I woke up and found my toothpaste bottle was surrounded by dead flies.  None got in though, so it’s ok.

Like I said before, the house is built on pillars, and there are four hammocks set up, strung between pillars. I’m sitting in one, and it is enjoyable.  Besides the house, there is a small spirit house in front.  To the side it is what looks like a rundown shed.  It’s partitioned into two sections—on the right is the bathroom.  It contains a porcelain hole in the ground and a bucket of water.  On the field is the shower, which contains a small cement tub of water, a bucket, and a shelf.  On the shelf is a candle stick, which is the light we use for the (awesome) bucket showers.  Within the last few minutes a chicken has climbed the stairs into the house; a man walked by, completely drenched carrying a small net of ten or so fish; a man walked along the main road with a rope connected to a large pig; my two favorite dogs stopped by, and countless flies landed on me. I am going to head to breakfast now.  Breakfast on the island has been really good. This morning we had thin egg with scallions, banana chips, fried rice with tiny pieces of green bean, egg and carrot. The only way to describe the next thing is French toast—but it was better in my opinion.

Right after I left for breakfast two girls came up to me holding something behind their backs smiling.  They gave me flowers, and one fell so they put it in my hair.  They didn’t talk but were all smiley.  A girl had a paper.  I patted the hammock so they sat and I saw the paper had numbers.  I counted with them and they ran away, still smiling.  On my way from breakfast I saw them again, and they gave me more flowers.  Everyone on the island, especially the children, have been so kind and welcoming.

---

It is lunch now and we are waiting for a few people.  We went to the village chief’s house and worked on starting a garden.  Some of us planted the dirt and some dug holes for the posts to go in. We will continue the work tomorrow. I walked around and found a pig who kept snorting.  It was quite large.  We also found a frog about the size of a hand that blended in with the wood.  After, some of us went swimming.  The water was about 70 degrees and it was really nice and refreshing.  I sat in it for about an hour---it was brown and murky because the sand at the bottom was very fine.  Some of us were nibbled on by some fish.  Nearby a water buffalo was tied to a rope.  Afterwards, I played with Angela’s homestay kids.  Lunch included stews, rice and fish . We are now preparing for our interview with the village chief.

Some notes on the village chief’s interview:

-He has seven children, and has been chief since 1986.

-His responsibilities include managing the village, solving problems (security, domestic violence, health and illness, etc.)

-He thinks of tourism on the island as positive because it brings resources to the island---for example they have toilets which are fairly rare in rural Cambodia.

-He encourages people to stay on the island and work in agriculture instead of leaving.

-He is currently working on getting ID cards for everyone

-He thinks it is much harder for people to grow things now as Cambodia is suffering from global warming.

-He says a lot of other countries cut down trees to develop, but Cambodia has been hurt by this and isn’t supposed to do this---which seems unfair.

-He says that sometimes education is not valued, and it is difficult and expensive to continue past junior high school because they need to study on the mainland.

-He believes in education, because it can reduce domestic violence and produce more jobs—which he wants for the island.

After meeting with the village chief I went on a nice bike ride with a few people, others washed clothes, read or talked. After most of us sat in hammocks to avoid moving in the heat.  I played Egyptian ratslap with Yut and some people.  We are now discussing the conversation with the village chief.  In conclusion, our first few days on the island have been amazing.  We are all looking forward to experiencing the next few days tomorrow.

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The Daily Update from Kho Pdao

Hannah,PARTNERSHIP: Pacific Ridge School Cambodia

Description

I got out of bed around 5:30 and after laying in bed for a while I listened to the roosters and the occasional motorbike.  I am sleeping on a thin pad on the ground and used a sarong I brought to cover up.  My homestay partner, Namu, wasn’t awake yet so I went downstairs.  I washed a few more clothes.  My […]

Posted On

06/2/16

Author

Hannah

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    [post_date] => 2016-06-01 12:13:04
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    [post_content] => 

We began our day with a discussion about the Khmer Rouge international tribunal.  After reading two articles on the subject the evening before, I was left thinking about how effective and just the tribunal really seemed to be.  In the morning we were asked to take a stance in support or against the tribunal, then promptly instructed to argue the opposite side in a friendly, one-on-one debate with a peer.  Going in, I was essentially in the middle of the issue, typical of my noncommittal indecisive personality, and arguing multiple sides of the issue required me to think empathetically and allowed me to test out several opinions.  In talking with my peers, we raised a lot of good questions: Is the cost of the trial worth it, or should the funds go towards other projects to help Cambodia?  If a trial is not held, are we setting an international precedent that you can get away with something like this?  Will Cambodians ever feel as though they have received closure, regardless of whether or not a trial takes place? Where do we draw the line between justice and judicial revenge? This activity not only allowed me to explore different opinions but it also helped me to begin to grasp the depth and complexity of what it means for something to be “just”.  The seemingly apparent or legally just answer may ignore the greater depth of the issue and in reality may not be in the best interest of the community it is aiming to service.

After a delicious breakfast of omelets, baguettes, beef noodles, Cambodian lemonade, mango shakes and sweet iced coffees we headed over to the Documentation Center of Cambodia—DC-Cam.  DC-Cam is a Cambodian NGO that aims to research and record the era of the Khmer Rouge for the purposes of memory and justice.  The center contains the world’s largest archive of documents and photographs of the Khmer Rouge period.  Upon arrival, we watched a documentary following several Cambodian families entitled A River Changes Course.  The film lacked narration, and instead presented us with a raw look into the lives and specifically environmental and economics struggles of these families.  The film was excellent and afterwards we had the opportunity to speak with two representative associates of DC Cam.  We asked them about their personal opinions on the Khmer Rouge, the goal of the documentaries they produce, the potential government censorship of their content and the feedback they receive about their films.  The documents are a way to educate and spread awareness about the era of Democratic Kampuchea in a way that is raw and genuine.  The documents preserve the atrocities and wrongdoings of the Khmer Rouge so that the memory of them does not fade as time goes on.  The film was powerful for me because, as an American citizen born after the time of the Democratic Kampuchea, it is easy to feel disconnected from the Cambodian people and their history.  The film not only furthered my education on the Khmer Rouge but also evoked a lot of empathy, and made the history feel personal to me, which is something I had not experienced when reading about it.

After DC-Cam, we hopped on a bus for five hours and headed for the town of Kratie.  The bus ride was a nice opportunity to unwind and bond after an eventful morning, as well as a chance for us to connect with place.  We played telephone with Khmer words and told lots of stories and jokes, and I feel myself already growing closer with everyone here.  Tomorrow we begin our six day homestay on the island and I think that we are all a little nervous.  I have high hopes that this experience will be one, if not the most, meaningful parts of this trip.  I am really excited to see what the next few days bring.

[post_title] => Field Notes Update - Day 3 [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => field-notes-update-day-3 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-06-01 12:13:04 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-06-01 18:13:04 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/blog/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 540 [name] => PARTNERSHIP: Pacific Ridge School Cambodia [slug] => pacific-ridge-cambodia-2016 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 540 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 536 [count] => 12 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 0.1 [cat_ID] => 540 [category_count] => 12 [category_description] => [cat_name] => PARTNERSHIP: Pacific Ridge School Cambodia [category_nicename] => pacific-ridge-cambodia-2016 [category_parent] => 536 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/summer-2016/pacific-ridge-cambodia-2016/ ) ) [category_links] => PARTNERSHIP: Pacific Ridge School Cambodia )

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Field Notes Update – Day 3

Dana,PARTNERSHIP: Pacific Ridge School Cambodia

Description

We began our day with a discussion about the Khmer Rouge international tribunal.  After reading two articles on the subject the evening before, I was left thinking about how effective and just the tribunal really seemed to be.  In the morning we were asked to take a stance in support or against the tribunal, then promptly instructed […]

Posted On

06/1/16

Author

Dana

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    [post_date] => 2016-05-30 21:35:39
    [post_date_gmt] => 2016-05-31 03:35:39
    [post_content] => 

Today we drove to S-21, which is the museum of the Khmer Rouge.  Compared to my life back home, a life during the Khmer Rouge rule was torturous, filled with hatred, anger, and violence.  Coming in to see the museum I knew that today would be filled with sadness, however I didn't realize how much the aspect of forced marriage and torture of prisoners would affect me.  Growing up with a traditional Indian background in the US, I was sure that I knew how arranged marriages and marriage in general worked.  However, during the Khmer Rouge rule, marriage was a form of torture.  Women were left in a very vulnerable position and couldn't escape.  The stories that the interviewed women told were stories that cannot be pitied rather empathized with.  Women were forced to marry random men and they feared what their husbands would do to them.

One quote that really stuck with me was "being forced to marry someone you don’t love is like swallowing a bitter fruit, only to have it get stuck in your throat.  I went through with marriage and I swallowed gravel and rocks for ten years.” What I am shocked about is the fact that whether or not women wanted to go along with what was going on, they did anyways to stay alive.  The common theme I saw was that women were encouraging our generation to fall in love before marriage because then no marriage will be left in hate.  In order for an event, like the Khmer Rouge, to never happen again our world needs to first accept everyone as human.

The thing that strikes me most is that we haven't really learned anything from history.  Today in the Middle East, ISIS performs mass murders and tortures women.  In Africa, men like Joseph Kony and the group in Nigeria have kidnapped and sexually assaulted thousands of women.  In a world where there are one million people trying to do the right thing, there are also ten people doing the wrong thing.  In a world of war and hatred, there is always room for a new beginning.  After all, love always prevails after the storm.

I didn't think there was still going to be a stench when we went to visit the Killing Fields.  I thought that by learning about genocide in school I was never going to see real evidence of human execution.  Today, the Killing Fields were harder to see than S-21 because of the scattered graves, skulls, other bones, and the clothing of small children. The story about how babies were murdered really captured my attention because I was so naive about how brutal the killings were. I felt like over the progression of learning about genocide in history, I have become less and less naive.  For me, knowing about the horrible history of life around the world in the 20th century gives me an opportunity to come to terms with how much less brutal our generation is.  However I also feel like learning about the history of the countries during the First and Second World Wars, I am more able to accept the tortures that people faced.  Again, I am shocked that there was still a smell leftover from the skulls.  I was shocked that a small percentage of an entire country could turn on their country and create so much destruction.  I am shocked that this happened in more places than one, Germany for example, or Italy.  The biggest question I have is why?  Why was it necessary for so many people to get murdered for absolutely no reason? Why did no one actually try to stand up and do something about it? Why did it take one person to turn the people against the country and so many and more people to turn back around the opinion of the people?  Why didn't anyone fight back?  I feel so naive for not knowing about what happened in the developing regions of the world, and I'd really like to get more involved.

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S-21 and the Killing Fields

Namu Sampath,PARTNERSHIP: Pacific Ridge School Cambodia

Description

Today we drove to S-21, which is the museum of the Khmer Rouge.  Compared to my life back home, a life during the Khmer Rouge rule was torturous, filled with hatred, anger, and violence.  Coming in to see the museum I knew that today would be filled with sadness, however I didn’t realize how much […]

Posted On

05/30/16

Author

Namu Sampath

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    [post_date] => 2016-05-29 13:04:45
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    [post_content] => After a long flight, the group has arrived safe and sound in Phnom Penh. They are settling into their hotel and exploring the city today. More updates to follow soon!
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Arrived!

Jackson Cooper,PARTNERSHIP: Pacific Ridge School Cambodia

Description

After a long flight, the group has arrived safe and sound in Phnom Penh. They are settling into their hotel and exploring the city today. More updates to follow soon!

Posted On

05/29/16

Author

Jackson Cooper

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