Well, it turns out that arriving 3 days early in Siem Reap was a great decision on my part. I’ve already had a chance to meet many members of the Ly family, our gracious hosts here at the Seven Candles Guesthouse, and begin to get to know Lori, Ponheary Ly President (&Jas, our professor!) on a more personal level. It’s such an invaluable experience to know them better, to hear their stories, especially after studying Cambodia’s history and reading many books on the country in our 5 month prep course this past Spring 2012. Already, I can not count the number of personal stories Lori has shared about someone she knows whose story directly correlate with what I read in class about Cambodia, everything from child sex trafficking and its impact, to the nuances of international development work.
Everything is beginning to come alive for me and I can not imagine grasping these concepts without this on-the-ground experience. From visiting the Life and Hope Association housed inside of a Buddhist monastery to perusing one of the many city markets to meeting some of the most compelling and incredible people from around the globe, this experience already has my head spinning and my eyes brimming with tears (every 5 minutes!), and this is only DAY TWO! I’m looking forward to the arrival of my classmates, the rest of our team, and the infinite adventures that lie ahead. Tomorrow is a new day!
–Jordan Lapolla, New School student participating in international civic engagement course.