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Cambodia Summer Program.

Instructor Intro – Brendon

Soursdey (Hello in Khmer)! Welcome Cambo Summer Students!

Your instructor team is eager to meet you. We are excited to learn about your interests, passions, and reasons for choosing the ‘Kingdom of Wonder’ as your summer study destination. Regardless of your reasons for choosing Cambodia, you will be treated to a youthful and dynamic country that is changing rapidly. Urban areas like Phnom Penh have received complete makeovers and are unrecognizable to residents after only a few years, while rural areas are still charmed by a slow pace of life and relative simplicity. The instructor team cannot wait to appraise your reactions to what we encounter in Cambodia and see the country through your eyes.

As for myself, I first ventured to Cambodia in 2012, as part of a holiday while I was serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in northwest China. Little did I know that Cambodia would come to play such a significant role in my life and career…

After finishing Peace Corps and graduate school studies in development/environment I returned to Phnom Penh to work at a public interest law firm. I focused primarily on environmental governance reform related to renewable energy and extractive industry (mining) law, as well as various land rights cases in the northeast of the country. As you will see through our travels, Cambodia is confronted by serious environmental challenges posed by climate change, unsustainable natural resource exploitation, and a myriad of other factors. I am stoked to continue exploring questions related to development and environment with all of you.

Political instability in mid-2017 saw my work come to an end with the law firm in Phnom Penh. Since leaving Cambodia I have worked with an NGO called Earth Rights International in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The NGO combines the power of law and the power of people in defense of human rights and the environment. My role has been to train community leaders and human rights activists so that they can in turn defend their community’s fundamental human and environmental rights. I was truly inspired by the courage of the activists and their commitment to defending their community against corporate or government abuse. While in Cambodia we will have the opportunity to learn from several of the activists that I trained and hear more about their work and sacrifices they make to ensure equitable and sustainable development.

Outside of my work you can find me running through the forests and cycling through the mountains of northern Thailand. Apologies in advance for the peer pressure that I will apply to get you out running, especially in Phnom Penh, where a running group I started called Running Bongs is still very active.

We are really looking forward to reading your introductions here on the Yak Board and answering any pre-course questions that you may have.

Best of luck with finishing up your school year and exams.

See you in Cambodia!