Dear Friends, Family and Well-wishers of the Khambo 2018 student crew
We write to you from the lazy serenity of the village of Koh Ksach Tonlea. Here we have slowly adapted to the community’s peaceful agricultural routine – up with the roosters and down with the sun. Each of us has a new family – parents, grandmas, little brothers – with whom we communicate in broken Khmer, a few words of English, and in all those ways humans speak beyond words.
As well as our daily meditation, language lesson, and development discussions, we have been learning so much about the people and history of the island, by forming panels of local people who can talk to us about these issues. The students all have been given new names, and have also chosen their independent study project, for which everyone started doing research and interviews today. Here is the list of our new names, their meanings, and the topics we have chosen to study:
Felicity – “Phearun” (meaning “rain”) has chosen to study mental health in Cambodia.
Alice – “Leakhena” (meaning “the woman of five perfections”) has chosen to study Buddhist stories in murals and paintings.
Adam – “Arun” (meaning “sun”) has chosen to the topic of: How to Help – what does good service and foreign aid look like in Cambodia?
Jack – “Jho” (a common male name) is studying: Words of Wisdom – traditional proverbs and sayings.
Sally – “Sopheap” (meaning “a gentle and polite girl”) has chosen to study memoirs and stories of the Khmer Rogue period.
Julie – “Malies” (meaning “jasmine”) is asking the question of what happiness means in a post-war society, and what makes Cambodian people happy.
Saoirse – “Sothea” (meaning “abundance”) has chosen to record soundscapes in different locations and ask what makes a healthy ecosystem.
José – “Huot” (meaning “evaporation”) is studying language diversity in Cambodia.
Nina – “Nuon” (meaning “goodness”) is studying Cambodian folklore.
Rachel – “Reaksmey” (meaning “ray of light”) has chosen the topic of traditional sports and youth recreation.
Spencer – “Sarakk” (meaning “importance”) is looking at freedom of expression and how that has changed over the past few years in Cambodia.
Kylie – “Khamroun” (meaning “the spirit of the Khmer people”) is exploring the difference in political beliefs between people who live in the city and people who live in the countryside.
Everyone is looking forward to diving into their study topic. And here is a photo of us all after we just arrived on the island!
With love from Claire (“Kla” – Tiger), Kelsey (“Kongkeip” – Frog) and Yut “Miam” – Owl)