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Cambodia Study Tour Report


Students at the Royal University of Phnom Penh

Eleven undergraduate students took part in a study tour to Cambodia from August 21 to 28, 2016.
The tour included visits to the National Employment Agency, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Cambodia Office, the Cambodia-Japan Cooperation Center, the National Maternal and Child Health Center, the Cambodian Mine Action Centre, and a wheelchair workshop operated by the Association for Aid and Relief, Wheel Chair for Development (AAR, WCD), where students focused on examining pre-set topics devised during their studies. Prior learning about Cambodia in class provided students with a basis for more in-depth conversations at each facility on topics such as the Cambodian employment situation and health system, peace-building efforts, and future development plans. The study tour format provided us with many valuable experiences not possible on a sightseeing trip. For example, at Kampong Chhnang Provincial Hospital, we learned about future issues in health care and medical treatment while being guided around the facilities, including wards where patients were being cared for. Visits to the homes of wheelchair recipients arranged by AAR, WCD gave us a real sense of the difficulties faced by people with physical disabilities and the importance of the support they receive. These visits gave us a glimpse into life in regions outside the capital Phnom Penh. We also had the chance to mix with people playing various roles in local communities, including students at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, Cambodian women entrepreneurs, Japanese women who have started businesses in Cambodia, and Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers.

Visit to a training facility for mine-sweeping dogs

Hearing directly from people living in Cambodia gave us a real taste of life there, and we were able to learn a lot about the current situation in the country, issues it is facing, and everyday life. Speaking with Japanese people living in Cambodia taught us about some of the difficulties faced in international cooperation and exchange, such as the challenges of working in a cross-cultural environment where people have different values, and the frustrations of proposing solutions to problems only to find that they do not run smoothly. However, we also learned about the joy people felt when communication went well, the sense of achievement when work succeeded, and the fascination of discovering commonalities and differences. Although our time in each of the places visited was limited, Q&A sessions enabled us to pose questions and we paid careful attention as we toured facilities. In this way, study tour members were able to satisfy their own interests. On the final day, we visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and learned about the Pol Pot regime that had a profound impact on Cambodia’s history. Our learning did not come to an end at the conclusion of the eight days, and lessons and thoughts from the study tour will inform our future studies.

(Yuka Suzuki, 1st year student,
Department of Human and Social Sciences, Faculty of Letters and Education)

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