The Cambodia service trip allowed me to understand the difference in living conditions between Cambodia and Japan, and was able to educate me in terms of the various perspectives on connecting with other cultures, and helping developing countries. Through the HOPE Cambodia service group, in collaboration with the HOPE International Development Agency, I was able to gather funds, fly over to Pursat Cambodia, and experience first hand on what kind of development is being made in the area. The trip allowed me to understand my relationship between Power/Privilege, and the following:
Firstly, the trip allowed me to understand both a global and local perspective on the economic situations seen in a developing nation such as Cambodia. It was already evident that there was a large economic difference in power between Cambodia and Japan, when I set foot into Phnom Penh. Although the city was full of touristy buildings and quirks, the roads weren’t as developed, and the streets weren’t as sanitary. All of this was to be expected, however, having visited other South-East Asian countries that are still in the developing process. What shocked me more was when I visited families who were on the wait-list to receive a well for their daily needs. These families lived off of only $2 a day and had to walk miles to receive water from a river. One family had a member with a disease on their throat, which they could not afford to treat properly, and had to survive on communal supplies of small medicine. This visit to these families was when I most certainly realized our privileges of living in a developed nation, and the power our help can create in other members of society. For these people, a well was going to make their lives a lot easier, as they could afford time and water to grow sustainable crops for income or time to go work outside for sustained income. It could also provide safety for those with disabilities, without them needing to suffer from needed labour of going out to retrieve water.
Secondly, the trip to the killing fields allowed me to understand the political power of the Khmer Rouge regime. Through the trip to the killing fields, I was given stories of local people, and their experiences under the Khmer Rouge regime, speaking of their horrors. The Khmer Rouge thought that education should be banished, making most areas of Cambodia, rural farmlands. The regime enforced this by killing intellectuals and encouraging children to work instead of going to school. Through learning this, I was able to understand the atrocities that have occurred on the people of Cambodia, and the power one political power can have over a country. The stories were shocking and quite unbelievable, as I am privileged, living in such a developed nation, where education and peace are valued and kept together by the political power of the government.