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Cambodia Study Tour Report


A weeklong Cambodia study tour was held over September 3-10, 2017 as part of the Practicum for Convivial Global Society course. A total of 12 students took part from across the arts and sciences—eight in their first year, three in their second, and one in their third year at the university.

Ten study group meetings were held over the three months prior to departure (from June to August), including classes on the survey methods to be used on the study tour, lectures from JICA senior expert on gender issue, and learning about Cambodia through discussion of the texts that covered from the Pol Pot regime and civil war to gender. Listening to the wide range of views among students from different majors and grades and with different overseas experience helped us to deepen our thinking and select themes for our individual field research projects, which included education, childbirth, IT, labor, and community.

Visiting Tong Rong village

On our first day in Cambodia we stayed in the capital of Phnom Penh where our plane landed, launching into our research as of the second day. From the second to the fourth days, we stayed in Kampong Cham Province, which lies in eastern Cambodia around two hours by car from Phnom Penh, and conducted interviews in rural villages. Thanks to the excellent local arrangements made to expose us to a diverse range of themes, we were able to talk with people from many different backgrounds, including a commune chief, women who had participated in JICA’s gender mainstreaming program, women who had suffered domestic violence, households with children who had received a tertiary education, and households with family members working away from home.

After finishing our survey work on the fourth day, we went back to Phnom Penh, and on the fifth day we visited the Association for Aid and Relief (AAR), a group which supports persons with disabilities (PWDs) through inclusive education projects, vocational training, and wheelchair production and distribution. We visited the wheelchair manufacturing workshop and the homes of some wheelchair recipients. Many PWDs work at the workshop, refining and improving the wheelchairs to make them more convenient for wheelchair users. We also had the chance to try the wheelchairs out for ourselves. After eating lunch with AAR staff, we talked to wheelchair users, who told us some amazing stories. One person, for example, once had to pull themselves around with their arms to work, but an AAR wheelchair had extended the distance they could travel, and now they could do their housework and engage with their neighbors.

With students from the Japanese class at CJCC

On the sixth day, we went to the Cambodian-Japan Cooperation Center (CJCC) and to JICA to learn about the relationship between Cambodia and Japan. At the CJCC, we talked with Cambodians around our age who were learning Japanese, and also saw a class in action. I was surprised at the number of students who were learning Japanese because of their love of animation and other aspects of Japanese culture and Japan as a country. At JICA, we were briefed on JICA’s support work in Cambodia. This was followed by a Q&A session where we were able to ask JICA staff with long years of experience in Cambodia all the questions we had from our six days in the country, which was extremely valuable.

On the seventh and final day, we went to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, which recreates the facility’s days as a prison so graphically that it was hard to look. I will never be able to forget the shock of that sight, and nor should I. While it sounds like a cliché, I truly prayed for world peace. I am grateful to Professor Hara, who added the museum to our itinerary because she considered it to be an essential part of a trip to Cambodia.

We all learned a lot from the prior study and the weeklong practicum. An enormous amount of training was packed into that brief seven days, including visiting both urban and rural areas, talking to both locals and Japanese, and conducting research on various themes.

Finally, it was thanks to support from everyone, including those who welcomed us so warmly in Cambodia, and particularly Mr. Phoma, who accompanied us on the tour as our coordinator and interpreter, that we were able to have such a rich experience. My heartfelt appreciation to you all!

(Risa Aoyagi, 2nd year student, Global Studies for Intercultural Cooperation,
Faculty of Letters and Education)

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