Not only have I lived in Cambodia longer than 98% of resident expatriates, I am also the de-facto dean of education and senior faculty member at a liberal-arts college that aspires to follow an American educational model.
My university was established at the end of the 20th century by returning Cambodian-American academics with the sole purpose of undermining Cambodia’s longstanding historical doctrine of subservience and apathy.
Our single greatest challenge is nurturing critical thinking & creative collaboration among young adults who have grown up having their innate curiosity actively and effectively neutralized by fear, intimidation, and violence.
Remarkably, the national secretary of education is a radical leftist, with zero tolerance for the status quo, who is actively enacting encouraging systemic reforms across Cambodia.
Although I do not know him personally, he & I frequently comment on and share each other’s posts. Look him up. His name is Hang Chuon Naron.
Not everybody in Cambodia’s government is a Khmer Rouge crony.
All of my personal students have chosen to become teachers because they realize education is the ONLY key to Cambodia’s otherwise uncertain future.
Here is a true example of what a typical Cambodian university student writes…
“In Cambodia, lost of a lot of humans result while Khmer-Rough that made Cambodia now days do not have humans result enough because they death without teach Khmer generations yet.”
Thankfully, the majority of my students who stick with me graduate preferring to speak and write English rather than their native Khmer.
One student put it this way, “Mr. Jones, the Khmer language has been a language of communism and control for a very long time, but English is the language of education and independence.”
I thanked him and started crying on the spot.