Saturday, July 23, 2011

UC Students and Exchange Students Explore Cambodian History and Culture

 By Lim Nguon

A group of University of Cambodia (UC) students and five Southeast Asian Comparative Studies (SEACS) exchange students from the United States went on two study trips to learn more about the history and culture of Cambodia and to learn from each other. Through the SEACS program, the American exchange students had an opportunity to study at both Payap University and UC.

Students visited Phnom Chiso, Angkor Borei, and Phnom Da to learn about Cambodian culture, history, and landscape management.
The first trip was to Phnom Chiso, Angkor Borei, and Phnom Da on April 2. The purpose of the trip was to provide insight to the American exchange students on the culture, history, and landscape management of Cambodia. The second trip was to Kompong Chhnang and Oudong Mountain on April 10 and was organized by a group of UC students. The purpose of this study trip was to provide students with an opportunity to learn about the pottery industry in Cambodia, particularly in regards to community development and cultural knowledge. Additionally, the Cambodian and American students shared their knowledge and understanding about their own countries and cultures with each other.

Both trips were organized by UC students and led by Dr. D. Kyle Latinis, Dean of Research and Development and Director of Institute for Research and Advanced Studies.
The first destination was selected because of its historical value.

According to Dr. Latinis, “Phnom Chiso was built before the Angkor period and there are lots of remains dating to the Funan and Chenla Periods that are beneficial for study and research. And Angkor Borei and Phnom Da are the first ancient cities in Southeast Asia.”
“Though we were really burned out from the trip, it was worthwhile and was a wonderful trip to the ancient cities of Cambodia to learn about the great architecture, culture, civilization, and landscape management of Cambodia,” said Natalie Knowlton, one of the SEACS exchange students. “And, especially, the interaction and communication with Cambodian students was really beneficial to our studies.”

During the second study trip to Kompong Chhnang, the students saw how pottery and palm
sugar are produced, and how locals live in the rural areas. Students also visited local families and a local NGO for information about the pottery industry. They learned from a village woman that locals make pottery for a living and that the “skills have been passed on from generation to generation.” Moreover, the students learned that the NGO has helped to improve the local living standard.

Dr. Latinis also guided students to the rice fields, where he explained, “This is the traditional life of Cambodian people since over a thousand years ago; farming, fishing, palm sugar producing, pottering, gardening, and weaving are parts of Cambodian life.”

Afterwards, the students visited Oudong Mountain to observe a sacred religious site and learn about the old capital of Cambodia. Along the way, the UC students introduced Khmer food, fruit, and other local products to the SEACS students as a part of cultural sharing and understanding, while Dr. Latinis continued to lecture about Oudong Mountain, its architecture, and archaeological findings from the area.

The exchange students said they had a great experience and gained a deeper understanding of civilization in Cambodia and Southeast Asia. Both UC students and exchange students also shared that the trips were a pleasant experience that strengthened their friendships and improved their knowledge.

They also visited Kompong Chhnang and Oudong Mountain to learn about the pottery industry and its relation to community development
Heng Promsovannpor, a Term-VI UC student majoring in English Literature and one of the organizers of the trips, said the study trips gave her a good opportunity to learn management, organization, communication, and other valuable skills outside of her academic major.
The trips were a success, and the students would like to express their gratitude to Dr. Latinis for initiating the trips and delivering wonderful lectures.

Source: UC Bulletin June 2011, Page 20

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