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An Unexpected Encounter After Dinner One Evening

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By Shelby Oak

We got out of the van and approached our dinner at the Friends restaurant. Behind the outdoor section of the restaurant was a stage with lights, multiple LGBT flags, and microphones for people singing and dancing on stage. During our delicious dinner at the sister restaurant of our first outing we got to watch an LGBT activist show complete with Khmer poetry, singing, dancing and ending with a drag show. This sparked many questions among the group as to what human rights were like in Cambodia and really made us think about how they were able to put on a show like that. In bigger cities in Cambodia, the LGBT community is commonly accepted and celebrated, but in more rural areas it’s not to the same extent. Within villages, LGBT is less of an open topic and more something private that isn’t celebrated but isn’t prosecuted. After our dinner and the show, we approached the two queens for a conversation. They told us about how there’s a drag bar in Phnom Penh where they both …

Fun Night at the Olympic Stadium

By Sydney Molaver
Before our dinner, we had the opportunity to stop at a The Olympic Stadium, which is located in the middle of Phnom Penh. We arrived to the very busy parking lot that had many people wearing jerseys, which was odd because we were not aware of any game going on. We walked up very high stairs to a free viewing area which was around 3/4 of the stadium. In America you must pay to enter games and there is assigned seating, as well as security. This is different in Phnom Penh because only 1/4 of the stadium is assigned seats where all the fans are located (during local league games, however if the national team is playing the whole stadium is assigned). When we entered the stadium there in fact was a game going on, between two local Cambodian teams each sponsored by an organization. We watched about 10 minutes of the first half including a great goal by one of the teams. At half time a giant dance team came onto the field and performed for the fans which was really cool to …

Silk Island

By Alex Boston

We went to an area by the name of Silk Island where families process and weave silk, this area was only accessible via boat. We went to a house that was run by a family of sisters who explained the process of weaving silk. They explained silk comes from the cocoon of the silk worm which is a light orange color, but after it is spun they dye with natural dyes; for example, to make a purple color they boil a certain type of tree bark and soak the silk strands for up to two hours. After they explained how it was made, we saw a scarf being woven on a weave which was made completely out of wood.

They then gave us the option to buy silk scarves as well as other silk goods which was an interesting experience because in the US and in many developed countries, when we buy goods, textiles or otherwise, we never know where they are from, how they are made, or how much work goes into them so this was a foreign experience.

Home Stay in the Village

By Sydney Molaver

As we left Phnom Penh and drove into the countryside there were fewer buildings and more and more farmland. There were huge palm trees and rice fields located on the sides of the road. I also noticed less tuk tuks and motorcycles, in addition to cars that are common in the United States. Most of the housing we saw on the side of the road was on stilts. After our fun stops at the market place to try some tarantulas, we continued on the main road for another 45 minutes.

We finally turned onto the dirt road in Kampong Cham and immediately you could see significant differences between the infrastructure. In the city there were large buildings and it was very populated, whereas in the village the houses are on stilts, and very spread apart. We learned this is because of the flooding during the wet season and to keep wild animals away and out of their house. Many people keep animals under the house such as cows and chickens. As we passed some of the rice fields I noticed peo…

First They Killed My Father

By Mackenzie Moore

On our fourth and fifth  day of our trip while at our home stay we watched the movie First They Killed My Father which is based of a book written by Loung Ung and directed by Angelina Jolie. The book and movie is a true story of the writer and her family’s experience going through the Khmer Rouge. The movie follows Loung as her family is taken from their homes and is forced to work for the Khmer Rouge. In the movie her family is separated and forced to go through extremely difficult physical and mental challenges. The movie gave me a better visual of what went on during the Khmer Rouge and I felt empathy for the people who got ripped away from their lives and had to give up their life or work tirelessly through the rain of the Khmer Rouge.

The Rice Fields in Kampon Cham

By Mackenzie Moore
In the morning at 9 o’clock after breakfast he went to the rice fields. Most of the people in the village  wake up and are at the field at five in the morning. They work for six hours in the morning and if they live near the rice field after six hours of work they can stop home and eat lunch then go back to the fields for several more hours. If they live far away from the rice field they bring their lunch with them and eat it there. while working in the rice field all of us students were inexperienced. However, there were four locals there working who helped teach us what to do. One bundle of rice stalks  equals about five bowls of rice which is only one day of rice for a person. While cutting down the rice stalk you have to bend over which is straining on your back. After a while of working we were all tired and hot so we took a break. During the Khmer Rouge the people were told that they had to work without stopping and the people got nothing out of it. The village…

Sothea's Life Story

By Maryalice Smith 


Once we ate a lovely lunch with the family who makes silk. The group circled up to learn about the life of Sothea, one of our rustic pathways guides, and how the genocide affected his family. First we learned how the village was that his family lived in before the genocide, with a lot of green area, an environment where everyone loved each other, and some conflict with wars and the U.S. dropping bombs on Cambodia. In 1975, the Khmer Rouge started to enter their village. The Khmer Rouge explained to the people that they needed to leave their village because the U. S. was going to drop a bomb, so people took only a few belongings and fled. The villagers walked 35 km to a different village, unless the Khmer Rouge saw nice items, such as watches or earrings, where they would then take you for investigation. At the new village, his family was split up into sections with old women, young women, old men, young boys, where all of them worked. If anyone were to violate the r…