Near Cambodia’s Temple Ruins, a Devotion to Learning

Tear seems drop down unconsciously while I was reading this article. My life has come through what those individuals in the interview are breaking-through. The belief in higher education and persistent struggle for it is really honorable. Each time, when I looked at the great ruins and sandstone structures, it reminds me of education and ingenuity of Khmer ancestors to master on those architectures. Somdech Song Pang-Khat preached that if you look at the stones of Angkor Wat and other temples, you must communicate with the stones!
By
Published: January 24, 2012

SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA — Millions of tourists come here every year to visit the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat, an influx that has helped transform what once resembled a small, laid-back village into a thriving and cosmopolitan town with thumping nightlife and more than 10,000 hotel rooms.

Adam Ferguson for The International Herald Tribune

Students at Build Bright University in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

But the explosion of the tourism industry here has also done something less predictable. Siem Reap, which had no universities a decade ago, is now Cambodia’s second-largest hub for higher education, after the capital, Phnom Penh.

The sons and daughters of impoverished rice farmers flock here to work as tour guides, receptionists, bartenders and waitresses. When their shifts are over, they study finance, English and accounting.

“I never imagined that I could go to university,” said Hem Sophoan, a 31-year-old tour guide who is now studying for his second master’s degree. “There’s been so much change and opportunities for young people.”

Continue reading “Near Cambodia’s Temple Ruins, a Devotion to Learning”

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Life in a Cambodian rubbish dump

While Cambodia is notorious for its current prestige of success by just comparing to the horrible KR regime, another corner of Cambodian life is living in the dump near the prestigious Angkor Wat monument. Peace without justice is a fake peace. Peace without social equality is a murderous one…Sophoan

Updated November 11, 2011 19:12:39

Map: Cambodia

Just 30 kilometres from Cambodia’s world famous Angkor temples is an astounding sight tourists don’t see.

Tucked away from foreign eyes on the outskirts of Siem Reap is a community of about 500 people who live – or survive – in a rubbish dump.

Spanish photojournalist Omar Havana spent seven months from October 2010 to April 2011 getting to know the people at the dump and documenting their lives.

He says what he saw was was “from another world”, but that the people are happy.

Here Havana shares his photos and stories with ABC News Online.

One day in Cambodia a boy told me he had been living for many years in the rubbish dumps. I tried hard to get permission to visit them but I didn’t, so I made the decision to go without permission. What I saw there was from another world.

In total there are about 500 people working there, most of whom also live, sleep, eat and drink there. After working for several months in the dumps I even saw a child birth.

With 34 per cent of the total population living on less than $1 a day, those in the dumps, at least they can find food and shelter. They earn about 35 cents per day for 14 hours’ work.
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Pride or shame ?

Tuol Sleng Museum applies for registration with Unesco intrigued the question that this initiative will bring shame or pride to Cambodian people? If we check in the listing numbers of world cultural heritages subscribed by Unesco, we seem not see any genocidal or brutal place being put as World Heritage. But if Cambodia can achieve her purpose to register Tuol Sleng Museum with Unesco, it would be possibly questionable to the intent of this orientation.

Conceivably, many foreign visitors have always laid their expectation when they visit Cambodia: to experience the well-known greatness of Angkor Wat and the horrible notorious legacy of Khmer Rouge. Weighting these two expectations rationally reflect the pride and shame of Cambodia. The reputation of Angkor Wat highly honors the Cambodian people in the past, present and future. But the legacy of Khmer Rouge and Tuol Sleng prisoners’ camp ambiguously construes Cambodian people.

Continue reading “Pride or shame ?”

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