Cambodia

Peace-Building & Conservation

A 4-week Summer Abroad Program

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Duration
30 Days
Description

Examine issues of human rights and international development: engage in the optimism of Cambodian youth, unpack the legacy of the Khmer Rouge and Explore Buddhism firsthand.

Dates

Jun 28 - Jul 28, 2018


Suggested Ages

16-18

Number of Participants

12


Availability

open

Begins In

32 Weeks

Land Cost

$7,175


Estimated Flight Cost

$2,105

Siem Reap

Battambang

Phnom Penh

Kep

Program Overview

Known for the incomparable ruins of Angkor Wat, Cambodia is a country that evokes images of overgrown jungle temples, robed monks, and religious splendor.


In a land known as much for the lost Angkor Empire as its modern genocide, Cambodia is a nation of stark contrasts. Amongst its natural splendors, Cambodia offers one of the world’s most poignant examples of the challenges and triumphs of the “developing world.” From the raucous streets of Phnom Penh and the misty mornings at Angkor Wat to the idyllic shores of the Gulf of Thailand, Cambodia is a land of scars, wisdom and wonder on the cusp of change everyday.

Today, Cambodia is undertaking momentous steps toward modernization and gaining increasing amounts of political influence in Southeast Asia. Celebrated as the darling of the international aid world, the last decade has seen newfound wealth, foreign tourism and huge investments from neighbors and OPEC members alike on scale never before seen, and yet Cambodians are forced to navigate the complexities of climate change, corruption and rural poverty. Each of these issues being closely tied to the Mekong River, which rolls through…

In a land known as much for the lost Angkor Empire as its modern genocide, Cambodia is a nation of stark contrasts. Amongst its natural splendors, Cambodia offers one of the world’s most poignant examples of the challenges and triumphs of the “developing world.” From the raucous streets of Phnom Penh and the misty mornings at Angkor Wat to the idyllic shores of the Gulf of Thailand, Cambodia is a land of scars, wisdom and wonder on the cusp of change everyday.

Today, Cambodia is undertaking momentous steps toward modernization and gaining increasing amounts of political influence in Southeast Asia. Celebrated as the darling of the international aid world, the last decade has seen newfound wealth, foreign tourism and huge investments from neighbors and OPEC members alike on scale never before seen, and yet Cambodians are forced to navigate the complexities of climate change, corruption and rural poverty. Each of these issues being closely tied to the Mekong River, which rolls through the heart of the country.

Students on the Cambodia summer program gain firsthand insight into these contemporary issues through intimate engagement with regional experts and extended home-stays. They will live close to the ground, experiencing the realties of life for Khmer people, while engaging with those committed to improving the state of the nation.

Our course begins in the coastal town of Kampot. Here on the languid shores of the Gulf of Thailand, student begin with an orientation focused on building basic language skills and cultural knowledge while assisting in a mangrove restoration project. Kampot was a French colonial seaside resort in the early 20th century and offers a fascinating look into the not-too-distant past while becoming a trendy weekend getaway for tourists from the capital.

After meeting with ecologists from Wetlands Work! in Phnom Penh, we travel together to Chhnuk Tru to visit with Vietnamese boat people moving in a sunken forest in the Tonle Sap, Cambodia’s massive inland sea. We help local scientists install biologically safe toilets to the house boats to prevent water-borne disease and learn about the tropical ecology of the area’s sunken forest.

Continuing past the floating villages of Lake Tonle Sap, we pass through provincial cities like Battambang for our first learning service project with the local circus troupe, Phare Ponleu Selpak, and meet with officials at the Three Rivers Protection Network to discuss issues of climate change and regional food security. From Battambang we move to Siem Reap, where pilgrims and adventurers flock to the storied ruins of Angkor Wat. We live just outside the city at a multi-faith retreat center, Metta Karuna, where an Australian nun schools us on the intricacies of landmine politics and the phenomenon of orphanage tourism. One morning, we cycle through the mist to chase sunrise over the main temple at Angkor Wat,

Returning to Phnom Penh, we face the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge genocide. Though Pol Pot’s regime lost control of the country more than 30 years ago, the effects of this dark period linger on. By visiting the memorial sites of Choeung Ek Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Prison, we take the time to develop a profound sense of empathy for this period while also building a historical context in which to understand and process these events.

For many students, the highlight of this Cambodia summer abroad program is the chance to live with Khmer families. We live in simple homes on the island of Koah Ksach Tonlea, speaking Khmer with our home-stay siblings, and participating in daily chores, such as harvesting mangoes, collecting shrimp and washing cows in the Mekong River. This experience often provokes a lively discussion about important questions, like “what constitutes a good quality of life?” and “what is the purpose of ‘development’?”

During the last week of our journey, students employ their new expedition skills to design the final week’s itinerary. Past groups have traveled to areas of Cambodia’s coast and nearly deserted islands to reflect on the journey and prepare for the trip back home. The Cambodia summer program is ideal for students interested in stories of peace-building and grassroots conservation.

Read More Read Less Sample Itinerary

Program Components

5/5
Comparative Religion

Gain insight into the tenets of Theravada Buddhism and other spiritual traditions in Southeast Asia.

5/5
Development Studies

Engage with issues of human rights, political representation, ethnic divisions and sustainable development.

5/5
Focus Of Inquiry

Examine history, politics and peace studies. We'll also delve into Khmer art and history, as well as issues of sex tourism and human trafficking.

3/5
Home Stay

Spend up to eight days living with local Khmer families.

3/5
Independent Study Project (ISP)

Conduct your own mentored study project in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap or Battambang.

2/5
Language Study

Study Khmer through frequent classes and active language immersion with locals.

2/5
Learning Service

Embrace several opportunities for community-led service projects. Approximately 10 hours of service credit earned.

3/5
Rugged Travel

Travel through Cambodia by bus, boat and tuk-tuk.

2/5
Trekking

Take on a moderately challenging 3-4 day trek through Cambodia's northeastern jungle.

About Components
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