Editor’s Note: Please see the experiential learning column for the spring 2020 issue “Encompass Southeast Asia: A Unique Experiential Learning Opportunity through the University of Richmond” by Bob Spires and Monti Narayan Datta beginning on page 64. In this supplement, students who participated in the experiential learning trip express what they learned during the trip and what they gained from the experience.
Thai and/or Cambodian culture, or politics, or social issues
This trip helped me to understand how Cambodia’s history affects modern-day society. The societal upheaval caused by both colonization, the Pol Pot regime, and the genocide led to poverty and the loss of millions of lives. I think these events are connected to the problem of modern-day slavery, as we learned that people in difficult financial situations are at a higher risk of accepting dangerous work to survive. In other words, the trip provided rich context to the issue of modern-day slavery in Cambodia.
What surprised you about traveling in Thailand and Cambodia?
The hospitality our group experienced during almost every interaction. When I’ve travelled before, I’ve felt either like an outsider because I was a tourist, or like an object of fascination because I was different. In both Thailand and Cambodia, I felt warmly accepted by the people we met. This allowed me to experience culture on a deeper and more connected level, which made for a more memorable experience.