The Cambodia trip was an exceptional learning experience for me in many perspectives. I believe my participation and multiple learning outcomes shows my engagement to the community, namely the HOPE Cambodia service group as an extracurricular activity, and also the NGO HOPE International Development Agency through the Cambodia trip. The experience has taught me Power/Privilege in the following ways:
Firstly, it allowed me to demonstrate engagement with issues of global significance, as I interacted with communities outside my own local areas, or in other words, another country, which allowed me to broaden my perspective of economic issues such as poverty in a more global scale.One of the biggest things I learned was the importance of access to clean water, which I have an privilege to having easy access, because of economic resources. Although I had prior knowledge about clean water, they were quite superficial because they were from news and other internet websites about water. However, during the trip we visited a two families on the waiting list for a well, and we came face to face with their harsh lives of having to get water (which was contaminated and unsafe) from a stream 1 km from their homes. This really was a moment when I realized the difference installing wells can make – it provides safety from illnesses such as typhoid, it allows families to grow more water rich crops which increases their income, and it reduces their labour from having to walk all the way to a river.
The trip also taught me about the power from a political perspective, through learning about the radical communist party Khmer Rouge, and the impacts it has had on the country. Khmer Rouge had forced most of the areas in Cambodia to become rural farmlands, and it is still apparent in the present that many areas in Cambodia, such as Pursat where we will be visiting, still economically developing, and is an impoverished rural area. Additionally, the Khmer Rouge did not favor high education, in fact executed many intellectuals, and focused children to work for agricultural labour, rather than encouraging them to go to school.
I’ve attached a video I made after the trip about the things we did. Kim Leng from HOPE is also (very briefly) in the video – it was such an honor to meet her and learn things about Cambodia from her.