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Art in Cambodia

Cambodia, by far, has been my favorite country. It is also the poorest country, or one of, in the world. Yes poverty does not hold them back from smiling, from caring, from being happy and making friends. By all rights, these people should be bitter. The enormous family losses created by the genocide carried out by the Khmer Rouge from 1975 - 1979 ranks with hideous and insidious evil of Hitler. Pol Pot,the leader, forced the country into an agrarian society, eliminating those with educations and celebrating the mountain people. He killed anyone who wasn't pure Cambodian, indeed set on having a pure ethnicity in the country. Yet, these people are not only survivors but celebrate life in every way. Artistic and outgoing, I've watched how they help those even less fortunate at an organization called Epic Arts. Epic Arts is an international, inclusive arts organization based in Cambodia and registered as a charity. They use arts as a form of expression and empowerment to bring people with and without disabilities together. Every person counts through our inclusive education, community and social programs. I was inspired myself. This was my introduction to a people who love each other and truly care. I'm thrilled to be here.

I've met a friendly French-Cambodian family who is running the inn where we are staying. I've visited with the 16-year-old daughter of the owner. She asked me about life in America and shared her fears about going to college in France when she completes her high school next year. She was lovely and spoke 5 languages. At this moment, I feel completely inadequate. She was a delightful person, and at the end of our visit, she invited me to her birthday party. My travel mates and I all attended a lively party with great food, singing and dancing and sharing. These are amazing people. And I've determined that if I ever get the opportunity to return to SE Asia, Cambodia will top my list as a must.

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