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

Dec 31, 2013 - New Year's Eve

The morning was spent listening and transcribing one of the interviews, a time-consuming process, but my digital recorder is working very well, and I was able to download the audio files onto my computer to work with them. Venerable Sam Art had arranged interviews for me in the afternoon with two monks studying at the Buddhist University. They both spoke English quite well, and it was interesting to get some insight into their lives as monks and their views for the future of Cambodia. They both became monks because it was the way to get a...

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Dec 30, 2013 - Buddhism in Cambodia

I had an early morning meeting with Venerable Sam Art at Preah Sihanouk raja Buddhist University, located within the Ministry of Cults and Religion on Preah Sisowath Quay. I had met him at the Awards Ceremonies for CEEF. He is a joyful and enthusiastic man dedicated to Cambodian youth. He served me tea, and we sat in the library, for which he has been busy collecting books. Everything was destroyed in the Pol Pot years, and it is taking a long time to rebuild Buddhist structures here, though it permeates the culture in many ways. He has a...

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Dec 29, 2013 - Khmer lesson

My morning started very early in an attempt to avoid the traffic sure to be associated with the large demonstration planned for today along my route to the Royal University of Phnom Penh. Good planning, as “Freedom” (his adopted name) wove his Tuk-Tuk through the streets without difficulty. Another free chiropractic adjustment reminded me how much I value my driver Thy, who has just left for his wife’s brother’s wedding in the countryside, and won’t be back for a week! The young woman I met to interview suggested we talk at a nearby coffee...

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Dec 28, 2013 - Deciphering culture’s layers

Miraculously, I had saved a tiny notebook from 2006, in which was scratched the phone number of Nareth, my Khmer tutor the first time I was in Cambodia. We had become good friends, as she had just graduated, was looking for a job, and tutored me for a number of weeks. I sent a text to this 7-year old number, and within two hours I had a reply—from Nareth! We met for lunch! She’s been hoping to accept a scholarship offer to do her Master’s in New Zealand in International Development, but she was .5 point below the standard on her English...

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Dec 27, 2013 - Determined Cambodian Youth

Today I was again inspired by the determined spirit and optimism of Cambodian college students. The three I met all come from the Provinces, have scholarships to attend ITC, feel exceptionally fortunate with this opportunity to study, and are determined to work hard, succeed, help support their families, and help their country develop. My first solo interview. Somehow the word has spread, and these students had reserved the Student Association conference room for interviews with “the professor from the USA.” We were even brought bottles of...

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Dec 26, 2013 - Searching the Truth

I spent the morning at the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) with Khamboly Dy, who is the Director of the Genocide Education Project, and the author of “History of Democratic Kampuchea (1975-1979),” a history of the Pol Pot years, developed for high school students. Prior to this publication in 2007, this period took two sentences only in the official social science textbooks. Students were not learning about this part of their country’s history. Now there are several pages in the approved national texts, taken from this book, and...

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Dec 25, 2013 - A Different Christmas

Funny about memories of special days. I woke up on Christmas Day remembering our special family traditional breakfasts of waffles or pancakes. Yumm! Tummy still not so happy, but I couldn’t resist going to FCC (Foreign Correspondence Club) for a breakfast of blueberry pancakes and maple syrup. Neither of these was the real thing, but they helped satisfy my imagination. Attitude can go a long way! It helped start my day that I received email greetings from one of my former students, from Ralph and Joyce, and a very kind Merry Christmas phone...

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Dec 24, 2013 - Christmas Eve

Not feeling so chipper today, so had a quiet morning. Boribo Morm, Phala Chea’s (Lowell contact) cousin, came to the hotel to meet me. She is a very enthusiastic tour operator for Modern Angkor Travel & Tours for in-bound tours to Cambodia. She also was my consultant on monk protocol—I can invite Ven. Sam Art to coffee in the morning, but not lunch (he eats in the Wat) or anything after lunch, as he would be fasting and studying. Good to have a cultural consultant! Sothy took me to ITC at 2pm for interviews. I learned he got married just...

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Dec 23, 2013 - Holiday in Phnom Penh & demonstrations

There are a few signs that a Christian holiday is around the corner. At Lucky Supermarket I bought a Christmas Log cake (English style) to share with my hotel family on Christmas Day. Demonstrations by the opposition party, Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), have become a norm in Phnom Penh since the August elections, which CNRP claims were fraught with irregularities. However, lately the protests have become a daily event. I saw a double line of police in uniform marching near the Independence monument today, and wondered if they were...

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Dec 22, 2013 - CEEF Awards Ceremony

Another day of the unexpected! I was invited to the Awards Ceremony for scholarship recipients for the Cambodian Education Excellence Foundation (CEEF) for students at the Institute of Technology of Cambodia and the Royal University of Phnom Penh. To my delight, I saw several students I have already interviewed, and they came up to me with a warm welcome. Ready to sit back in the audience and take photos of the recipients, I was surprised to be taken up on the stage to sit in one of the chairs for the dignitaries, then introduced as “our...

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Dec 21, 2013 - Day Off!

Winter solstice! Today is Saturday, and a day to take off—no appointments, no tuk-tuks, no long walks, no writing. Just being! Slept late, had a western breakfast of English Breakfast tea and a decadent chocolate muffin on the balcony of Costa Coffee, overlooking the Tonle Sap river, watching the barges pass slowly by. Then sat on a bench by the river and read, alternating between the Dalai Lama’s commentary on the Heart Sutra, and Brinkley’s “Cambodia’s Curse: A Modern History of a Troubled Land.” Good to have both! Lunch was a delicious...

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Dec 20, 2013 - 2nd interviews & a wild ride

On this second day of interviews, I met two young men at RUPP (seems the interviews are turning into multiples). Their English was pretty good, and again they helped each other when they couldn’t find the right word. We talked for two hours! Fascinating hearing their viewpoints. I won’t be writing here about that, as that’s part of the confidential research. A summary will come much later. As I’m doing more interviews, I may be writing less frequently on the journal. From RUPP I had decided to go to the offices of my colleague Phala’s...

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