In January 2009, thirteen students participated in the course titled ‘Challenges to Peacebuilding in Cambodia,’ and travelled in the country for two weeks. The focus of the field research was on work being done by NGOs and other peacemakers to help people cope with their trauma, understand their history, and explore what justice means for victims and survivors. There was also an analysis of the contemporary challenges the post-genocide society faces such as HIV/AIDS, poverty, and human trafficking. The travels took us to three cities – Siem Reap, Battambang and Phnom Penh, where students met and interviewed NGO workers, human rights activists, genocide survivors and perpetrators, and many other citizens from all walks of life. The trip also included visits to the National Election Commission, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (site of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal), the Genocide Museum, and the Killing Fields.
The Center for Peace and Conflict Studies was our host organization in Cambodia.
The field work component of the course was supplemented by a pre- travel preparatory weekend workshop. Students came together to discuss country specific conflict and peacebuilding aspects, watch documentaries and hear invited experts speak on the conflict. On return, students spent one day together reflecting on their experiences.
The cost for the course was 1275 dollars. This covered board and lodge, local travel, administrative costs and entry fees. Students had to cover their airfare expenses and visa fees.
Adam Kogeman Brandon Brunner
Christine Williams Christine Robinson
Ashley Kinseth Melissa Booth
Rachel Beck Kelly Brammer
Sarah Grime Nasseem Ghaffari
Rangineh Azimzadeh Faith Savoie
The group maintained a blog while in Cambodia. Students posted meaningful experiences, educational encounters, or just to share and document a special day.
Eight students along with Dr. Iyer, published in The Women’s International Perspective (The WIP), an online journal collective of women’s perspectives on international issues and current events. Each publication was written about topics or themes that particularly touched the authors in Cambodia and spurned further research upon their return. Here are the links to the articles:
Pushpa Iyer – Empathy and Peace: Lessons Learned in Cambodia
Pushpa Iyer – Cambodia: Defining Peace in Order to Build Peace
Melissa Booth – Cambodia’s Legacy of Silence
Naseem Ghaffari – Where Justice Decreed Intersects Justice Served
Ashley Kinseth – Peace, Justice and the Psychology of Faith in Modern Cambodia
Christine Williams – The Depth of Truth in Cambodia
Brandon Brunner – Selling Roses
Sarah Grime – We Can Hear You
Christine Robinson – Property Rights for the Urban Poor in Cambodia
Five students presented papers incorporating their field observations and independent research to the International Studies Association (ISA) West Regional Conference in September 2009.
Panel Title: Challenges to Building Peace in Cambodia
Pushpa Iyer – Chair and Discussant
Melissa Booth – ‘Social Justice on the Ground in Cambodia‘(pdf)
Sarah Grime – ‘Breaking the vicious cycle of HIV/AIDS and Human Trafficking in Cambodia‘ (pdf)
Ashley Kinseth – ‘Unspoken Trauma: Breaking the Silence to Heal Cambodia’s Youth‘ (pdf)
Christine Robinson – ‘Structural violence in Cambodia today: Land Rights and the Cyle of Poverty’
Christine Williams – ‘Educating a Nation: Education as a Means to Peacebuilding in Cambodia?‘ (pdf)
Available upon request.