I hope you are all enjoying following our blog. I think the course is progressing well - we are experiencing a lot every single day and have so much to tell. It is hard to find the time to sit down and write as we are gone from morning to evening - although, some in the group are really good in putting down their reflections and giving you updates on our research. We make time everyday to reflect together on our experiences which I think is very important both in terms sharing insights but also to channel our emotions positively. The past few days has certainly been emotional. We have heard stories from those who survived the Khmer Rouge period and visited the Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields. Words cannot adequately describe the emotions that wash over you - sadness, horror, anger, repulsion.
However, the one emotion that a few students made a reference to when referring to the experiences of the past few days, was frustration. And it became the topic of conversation yesterday morning during our reflection session. Frustration about the difficulty of being able to explain to others the gravity and the horrors of Cambodia's past and the challenges in working on a 'peaceful' future for Cambodia. Frustration also about the inability to do something to change the situation as we see it today. Frustration about the mis-management of resources and frustration about reconciling the agendas of individual NGOs to the needs of the people.
As I told the group, frustration is not a bad thing, it could actually be a positive emotion if channeled in the proper way. If there was no frustration and everyone was just content, then not much effort was going to be made to bring change. If frustration leads to depression (emotion) or inaction, then frustration does become a negative emotion and leads one to point fingers at what one considers is the source of that frustration. Frustration, if directed positively, could result in actions that makes for effective change in the situation.
Besides, we have just scratched the surface of the conflict/s in Cambodia and the challenges that the society faces in building sustainable peace. We are not at the stage where we can be really frustrated, we just need to listen and take our questions and the issues that bother us the most to another level - more information gathering, more analysis and if possible, more involvement at the ground level.
It was an interesting discussion and we have been having many such discussions. I thought I would share this one with you to give you a flavour of all the thought and reflection that the group puts in on this trip.
It's close to 2 am but then that happens every night and we start early in the morning too - we have been working very hard but we have also been having a lot of fun. I am not excited about returning to Monterey and getting back into the routine and teaching in classroom! But, we will be back soon and maybe (hopefully) catch up on our sleep?