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Read and rate Travel Journal Entries for Phnom Penh, CB11, Cambodia

Jan 15, 2014 - Last two interviews

Nareth really wanted me to meet some really poor people living in the slums, participants in an NGO, “Empowering Youth,” that she directed for three years. The organization is sponsoring them to go to university, as well as providing education for youth in this community. These were two enthusiastic, politicized, and determined young people. I was glad I had access to a community few people know exists. When I counted up the interviews I’ve done in the last five weeks, the total number is 46. I’m amazed! Beyond my dreams. Dinner with Ellen...

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Jan 14, 2014 - A white lady came by here

Today no major agenda! I started the day watching the Australian Open Tennis Tournament on TV. There are only 4 hours difference between Phnom Penh and Melbourne time zones. This is the first time I’ve really watched any TV, aside from an occasional BBC news broadcast, and a couple of times tuning into an episode of a Japanese soap. It felt very relaxing. Then I found Tang. Last week I had begun trying to track down the people I interviewed before when I first came to Cambodia 7 years ago, and saw again 5 years ago. I’ve written about their...

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Jan 13, 2014 - Lucky 13

The 13th has always seemed to be number for me. Today at PUC I had an incredible group interview. The students were so thoughtful and forthcoming, their English was quite good, they were enthusiastic and passionate. They didn’t want to leave, even though they had afternoon classes! I was so stimulated by this conversation, and felt very complete and blessed to have been able to have this deep dialogue with them. The afternoon was spent relaxing over lunch, going to a few shops, and relaxing over dinner! I can feel the transition coming on....

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Jan 12, 2014 - Trip to Takeo Province

It had been recommended to me that I interview some university students in the countryside, where I would find different perspectives from those who attend university in Phnom Penh. Dalin set up the interviews for me at Angkor Khemara University in the Province of Takeo, some 70 kilometers from Phnom Penh, and we set out at 7am. Dalin had reserved two spaces for us in a “shared taxi,” the only way to get there without your own car or moto, as it is not a tourist destination, and there are no buses. A “shared taxi” goes when the driver has...

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Jan 11, 2014 - Cambodia’s Lost Rock & Roll

Relaxing morning today! Listened to some of my audio recordings of interviews. This afternoon had two more interviews with students from the University of Health Sciences—one studying dentistry and one medicine. This year only three out of 400 applicants were admitted into studying a specialization in medicine—pretty tough odds. Last week at DC-Cam Dalin invited me to attend tonight the world premiere of a documentary film 10 years in the making—about the music scene in Cambodia in the 60’s, “Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock...

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Jan 10, 2014 - Interviewed 11 students!

Busy day! When the hierarchy works for you, it really works! PUC came through, and today I interviewed 10 students there, and 1 more at RULE (Royal University of Law and Economics). Whew! All interesting, diverse perspectives. I also met with the President of the PUC student association, PASS, who (after checking me out and making sure I’m ligit, and that I have permission from higher-ups so he doesn’t get into trouble) now has set up 8 more students for interviews Monday. My last week will be busy!

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Jan 9, 2014 - Tuol Sleng

Waiting for appointments day, so I decided to go back to visit Tuol Sleng Prison, a former high school which was turned into a prison and torture chamber and administered by Duch, one of the top leaders of the Khmer Rouge. I had been there the first time I was in Cambodia, and knew it would be hard. There is so much suffering and pain still in those walls and grounds. Since then, I have read a lot about Duch, who was in 2012 sentenced to life imprisonment by the Tribunals, so I wanted to see what else I might observe or notice this time....

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Jan 8, 2014 - Relationships are everything!

I arrived at Paññasatra University (PCU) at the appointed time to what I thought was to be a meeting with Kim and his team to plan a schedule for interviews with PUC students. Instead, Kim ushered me into a room in the library where he had assembled 6 students for a group interview. Fortunately, I had anticipated there might be surprises, and had brought along my digital recorder and notebook. This was a really interesting, thoughtful group of young Cambodian men and women who will graduate in April this year. After lunch I met with Dalin...

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Jan 7, 2014 - Holiday: “Victory Over Genocide”

Today is a national holiday, the day that Vietnamese troops ousted the Khmer Rouge in 1979. The current government (CPP) has a celebration of its party members, taking full credit for the overthrow. Only government officials are invited. I decided to do my own acknowledgement by going to a Wat and offering flowers and incense to the Buddha, with prayers for the 1.5 to 3 million people who died under the Pol Pot regime. Then I had a quiet afternoon at the National Museum, seeing the 4th and 12th Century Buddha sculptures in stone and the...

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Jan 6, 2014 - Respect, Outrageousness, and a little luck

Respect can go a long way. Also, it doesn’t hurt to be Southern, and a little outrageous. Realizing I only have a week and a half left here, I began the morning with a dash of desperation and a big dose of determination. I headed off to get contacts for Takeo Province and Paññasatra University (PCU), the places that promised, but have yet to connect me with students I can interview. Dalin, the office assistant/receptionist at DC-CAM, was pleased when I asked about his New Year holiday in Siem Reap. I remembered from our brief encounter last...

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Jan 5, 2014 - Get-Away to Kampong Som & Koh Rong Samloem

Just returned to the city from the weekend in Kampong Som (now called Sihanoukville). I feel like I’ve been away for 4 or 5 days, it was sooooo relaxing. Nareth was a great travel companion, and made the logistics much easier. We spent four hours each way in a mini-van, crossing fields with rice, dry land, small villages, and cattle. The roads were pretty straight (especially after Dharamsala!) and mostly in good condition. We checked into the simple but clean GBT hotel for $15/night, had a delicious lunch of a fresh steamed fish (the whole...

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Jan 2, 2014 - Dining with the monks

I received a text late last night from Venerable Sam Art, inviting me to join him for lunch for inaugurating the New Year. I wasn’t sure what this would be, but couldn’t turn down the opportunity to find out. I met him at the Buddhist University, and it turned out that the event was for all the staff. He introduced me to the Vice-Rector of the University, who is on his way tomorrow to Delhi, where he is completing his Ph.D. in Buddhist studies. The line of tuk-tuks whisked the saffron robed monks and me off to the Tonle Brassac restaurant,...

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