By Sok Lak
After two months teaching the Khmer Culture course, lecturer Diep Sophal led over 300 University of Cambodia (UC) students to Mondulkiri province to learn more about Khmer culture and, in particular, the minority groups in Cambodia. The three-day “Khmer Love Khmer” study trip was on May 13-15 and was funded by the students.
Students studied and researched the ethnic minority groups and their society, combining the theories studied in class with real-world experience. In addition to exposing students to ethnic minorities in the country, the trip aimed to encourage students to respect and appreciate their country, and to build stronger relationships with other students and with the community. Diep Sophal said that he brought the students to study and research the minority groups and their society. Phnom Penh and Mondulkiri are very different from each other, as one is urban and the other is rural, so the trip provided students an opportunity to compare and contrast the two areas and assess the progress of development in the country, he stated.
“When students know more about their country, they will start to love their country more and more,” he emphasized.
During the trip, students visited many places to learn about Khmer culture, minority groups, and the way people live in the rural areas of Cambodia. They visited a rubber plantation, Bou Sra Waterfall, Sen Monorom (the capital of the province), and Pou Tang village.
In addition, students conducted research on the Pnong ethnic minority group. They interviewed leaders and villagers in a Pnong village and collected many documents.
Ban Chenda, a student who participated in the trip, said that he felt very happy to see the beautiful landscape and the development in Mondulkiri province. He also said he believes the region can attract many tourists, which can help to develop the country.
“It is interesting. . .[to learn about the]. . .society and culture. . .[of Pnong people].. .Through the trip, I learned about the minority group’s dancing and the way they live,” he said. “The way they live is different from the way I live.”
Next year, Diep Sophal plans to create a photography exhibition contest, “My Village,” in which students provide photos of their homeland for display in the competition. The class will then travel to the winner’s home village. He said that he plans to do this because UC students come from different provinces and villages all over Cambodia. By sharing their diverse experiences, students will help each other have a better understanding of the many aspects of Khmer culture.
Source: UC Bulletin June 2011, Page 24