SEISEN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, TOKYO, JAPAN
How did the trip to Cambodia impact your life?
This summer, we had the opportunity to travel to Cambodia to fully immerse ourselves in the culture of the nation, as well as to strengthen our understanding of what it means to be a TASSEL member.
We started off this 10 day trip visiting different sites in which we were able to absorb Cambodia’s rich culture and shocking history. The tragic history of Cambodia was unveiled when we went to Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields. The Tuol Sleng museum was a prison for Cambodian intellectuals, captured by the Khmer Rouge during their brutal regime from 1975 to 1979. Everything within the museum was left untouched, and we were able to visualize first hand the ruthless killings that took place. Moreover, we were able to see the numerous cells that aligned the room, as well as the multiple blood splatterings on the wall. Additionally, the trip to the Killing Fields also painted a vivid picture of the suffering the Cambodian civilians experienced. The Killing Fields were used by the Khmer Rouge to execute civilians and dispose of them by burying them in mass graves. With the aid of audio recordings, the reality that the soles of our shoes were stepping on the same ground of those who were brutally killed left a lasting impact on us. We were also shocked to see the difference between the two genocidal sites we visited, in comparison to the Royal Palace. The Palace is the royal residence of the king of Cambodia. It was extravagantly built, with bright decorations and colors. Through the significant contrast between the sites we visited, we were able to come to the understanding of the values the Cambodian government have and how that affects the lives of the Cambodians. These visits forced us to attempt to conceptualize the inextricable silent suffering of the Cambodians. We no longer see TASSEL only as a means of teaching Cambodian children, but rather, as a way to provide opportunities for children and families who have suffered so much individually and as a nation. Through these experiences, we were exposed to the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime, but we were also deeply influenced to set about helping those in need.
The trip continued with us traveling to Battambang, where the significance of the trip came into effect: teaching. We arrived at the Samrang school showered with love and affection, and I was immediately moved to tears. Children and teachers surrounded us on both sides, and waved flags of our nationalities. There was a strong sense of love and unity that developed, which I knew would not be broken, despite the body of water that separated us once I left.