Monday, January 30, 2012

Genocide Trials

I would like to read more about the trials happening currently in Cambodia.  How has it taken over 30 years for charges to be pressed against the Khmer Rouge regime?  What actions have been taken to help the country of Cambodia reconcile with their past?  Physiologically, how can persecutors and victims live side by side?  How will these trials impact the collective mentality of Cambodia?

In my opinion, the Rwandan Genocide in 1994 is comparable to the Cambodian genocide in the fact that neighbors and friends were killing each other.  How has a place like Rwanda responded to a similar form of genocide and could this approach be used in Cambodia?  What does the process of reconciliation in Cambodia say about the cultural values there?

I think I will try to watch the film "Enemies of the People" before we leave and read some articles on the current trials.  I hope we can see the trials first hand while in Phnom Penh.

Hannah's Topic of Interest

I was inspired by the national geographic article that Rohan sent us on the de-mining effort taking place in Cambodia. As we've learned, Cambodia was heavily mined during the reign of the Khmer Rouge. Many of these mines remain in Cambodia's soils, and continue to injure those who unknowingly step on them. I'm very interested in learning more about what groups such as Aki Ra's are doing to not only help remove mines, but also to support their victims.

Angkor Temples

After much thought, I have decided to focus my research topic on the Angkor temples. I have always loved exploring archaeological findings, and can't wait to visit Angkor Wat at sunrise.

Angkor Wat was built in the 12th century and was dedicated to the Hindu God named Vishnu. King Jayavarman II moved to the Angkor and turned it into the administration center of the Khmer empire. It was the capital of Cambodia until 1431, when the Khmers moved the capital to Phnom Penh and left Angkor unoccupied. The Angkor ruins were forgotten until 1920 when a French researcher discovered them once again.

 I am curious about the history of the ancient temples. What caused the downfall of the Khmer empire? What were the impacts of French colonization? How did the Cambodian Genocide impact Angkor temples? What measures are being taking to restore and preserve this important archaeological site?


Tonle Sap Lake and the Mekong River

                It is hard to choose just one specific topic, but I have decided to focus on learning more about Tonle Sap Lake and Mekong River in Cambodia, both of which are extremely vital to the livelihoods of all Cambodians. I am interested in the ecology of these bodies of water, the communities on and around them, how they may be threatened, and the roles they have in supporting and allowing both the Khmer culture and the cultures of ethnic minorities and indigenous tribes to thrive. I think it will be fascinating to understand why Cambodia’s natural landscape is so important and how everything from the economy to government to the daily lives of the majority of Cambodians revolves around taking advantage of its very special resources. We plan to visit Kampong Phluk, a floating village on the Tonle Sap, and I am looking forward to seeing up close an example of a Tonle Sap-dependent community.
The Tonle Sap Great Lake is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Southeast Asia. It has an annual flow of water from the Mekong into the lake basin during the wet season, when the water levels in the Mekong rise. At the end of the wet season, the flow reverses and the lake empties again. This cycle maintains high biodiversity and productive fishing. Nearly half of the Cambodian population depends on the lake’s resources. It is believed that the Khmer Angkor civilization and many temples could not prosper without the rich natural resources of Tonle Sap Lake. Presently, the inland fisheries in Cambodia combined have an annual catch of an estimated 400,000 tons. Tonle Sap fisheries account for almost two thirds of the total catch in Cambodia.
Found on and around the Tonle Sap are not only large Khmer communities but large Vietnamese ones as well. The Vietnamese are the most vulnerable of Cambodia's minorities, and the most prone to discrimination and violations of rights. Because they are not ethnically Khmer, authorities think they are illegal immigrants. Unless they have identity papers demonstrating their Cambodian nationality, they often lose their land or homes that they may have owned for many many years. There are reports of state officials kicking ethnic Vietnamese from their floating villages around Tonle Sap Lake, and even of seizing and destroying identity papers which might prove some of them to be legitimate Cambodian citizens.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Photos from Our 2010 "Pre-Trip"

Below are photos from a trip BHS teachers Kate Boynton and Dan Green took back in the summer of 2010 to explore the possibility of a student study tour.  We saw musicians in Phnom Penh, met with our partners American Assistance for Cambodia, came face to face with tarantulas, travelled through flooded rice paddies to visit the Brookline Samlanh school, viewed ancient temples and met with our Cambodian friends.  We are looking forward to bringing students this February!

Helpful Maps of Cambodia

 The Brookline Samlanh School is located in Sangkom Thmei District

One month until departure!

One month from departure on the first Brookline Cambodia Study Tour.  Teachers Kate Boynton and Dan Green along with six amazing students from Brookline High will travel from Boston to Cambodia for two weeks in February and March to explore the rich history and culture of Cambodia from its ancient roots to its efforts to rebuild in the post Khmer Rouge era.  We will also have the privilege of visiting the Brookline Samlanh school in Preah Vihear province, for which our community raised $20,000 to help build.  Stay tuned for future posts.

We are so excited!  So much to do!

Above is a side view of the Brookline Samlanh School