The Khmer New Year is on the move right now and Cambodia is on parties everywhere. Here some facts and recommendations.
Although the proper Khmer New Year is on April 13 this 2015, actually celebrations start one week before. Children and young people gather on night time in villages to play traditional games. The celebration marks also the beginning of the raining season, so people through flour and water on the streets as a way to express happiness and friendship – well, as for friendship, every year there are many quarrels around the country for this game, because not everyone understands it as a friendship act…
Children wash their parents – as you washed me when I was a kid, now I wash you to pay respect to you. It includes the washing of the King in Phnom Penh. It is a way to thanks the love of our parents. Then Cambodians visit the pagodas and bring a lot food offering to the monks. Most pagodas have cultural and traditional programs. During the Khmer New Year to visit pagodas is the most recommended action to do, especially during the night. Pagodas profit this time to gather funds to finish constructions or to provide some help for the same community, so to make contributions to the monks is always good.
Dear volunteers, I would like to give you some recommendations and notes to work with Cambodian people, especially with students and staff.
The Cambodian culture and traditions is difficult to understand for Western people, so it is necessary to know some principles that would help you to coordinate your work with them.
I appreciate very much your contribution and I am sure that Cambodia need the transference of knowledge, skill and ethics if it wants to develop its society. At the same time, we need to protect and promote the best of the Cambodian culture and traditions. Continue reading →
It is not that people stop to read books… it is that they are reading books in digital forms.
In Cambodia there is not a culture of reading and the process must start by supporting schools and creating a national campaign on education.
In Cambodia there is not a decline in the culture of reading books, as it is the case in many countries. They can say that during the last decade new generations read less and less books, but it is not the same in Cambodia. After the troublesome decades of wars and conflicts, there is not a culture of reading books and, frankly, there are very little efforts to promote reading. It comes especially in a time of crisis for the paper book before the advance of digitization. According to a report by Spanish blog Ser Escritor, only in Spain two bookstores are closed everyday, a phenomenon that happens in industrialized countries, while developing nations increase their consumption of books (Ordoñana, Merino y Mayoz, 2015.)
Too many casinos in Cambodia, too many phones, motorbikes and cars… too few schools, too few teachers, too few campaigns to educate people on what really matters. The most shocking of this video is to see a young man dying in front to an iPhone camera and the guy recording doing nothing, just getting his image to post in his Facebook!
The current intention to explain why tropical countries are poorer than those countries in the temperate zone could touch a big variety of proposals, some of them of arguable position. For example, Jeffrey D. Sachs exposes that tropical regions have low agricultural productivity and the burden of tropical diseases:
“As Sachs sees it, tropical regions face two related major ecological handicaps: low agricultural productivity and a high burden of disease. Tropical soils are typically depleted by the effects of heavy rainfall, for example, and tropical crops are beset by pests and parasites that thrive in hot climates without winter frosts. Similarly, warm climates favor the transmission of many tropical diseases that are borne by insects and bacteria.” (Bloomberg, 2001)
I just published my book “Introduction to Khmer language for Spanish people.” It is a long story starting in 1999 when I arrived to Phnom Penh without speaking even English. Looking Khmer lessons for Spanish speaking people like me proved to be a difficult task. There was nothing. Cambodia and its Khmer culture was so unknown to the Spanish world as Spanish was a rare thing for most Cambodians at the time. I remember that I began to know some Cambodian professionals in Phnom Penh, who have studied in Cuba and could speak Spanish. Many of them were doctors, since many Cambodians went to study medicine in La Habana under the Vietnamese occupation. Back in Cambodia, they got good jobs in the capital with their Cuban wives and speaking a beautiful Caribbean Spanish. Meeting a Colombian was a wonder for them and one thought me Khmer for some time.