Our first day in Phnom Penh was a remarkable experience. Our scheduled visits to the Royal Palace and the Cambodia Living Arts Center exposed us to the rich cultural heritage of this country. But the biggest revelation I had today happened while talking with our guide, Sey Ha.
As we walked through downtown Phnom Penh, Sey Ha discussed the brutal regime of the Khmer Rouge, and how his parents never spoke about the terrors they witnessed. As he described the twisted logic and methods of the Khmer Rouge, he mentioned the code word they used for execution: “education.”
Students learn to play traditional Cambodian instruments at the Cambodian Living Arts Center.
Those deemed a threat to the government needed to be ‘educated,’ or killed for their beliefs. Now, Cambodians can’t stand to use the word.
This perversion of such a positive, affirmative concept shows the true extent and lasting impact of war and genocide as NGOs and the people themselves try to provide real education to this impoverished nation.
As we found, there are many who are trying to reclaim the true concept of education by sharing their talents, knowledge and experiences. And my students are hoping to embrace the concept of education by creating their own documentaries and sharing their experiences while in Cambodia.
A team of students conducts an interview at Sisters of Cambodia, an NGO that helps women leave the sex trade by teaching them job skills, and empowering them to reach their full potential.
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