Thursday, July 21, 2011

Postcard from Cambodia: A Would-Be Tourist

PHNOM PENH – For the first time in my life, I am a tourist in Cambodia.
I suppose that is not entirely true, as I am also here to promote a book I've just finished co-editing on trauma and the Khmer Rouge (prior post here). I also had the chance to have dinner with some students enrolled in Santa Clara University School of Law's summer program in South East Asia (at left). We ate at the delightful Friends Restaurant in downtown Phnom Penh, where former street children learn the subtle arts of Khmer cooking as well as restaurant management. Friends is a project of the Mith Samlanh Foundation (logo at right), which works to transition street children into meaningful work opportunities and more dignified lives.
In Santa Clara's summer program, students take classes in Singapore (comparative law, Islamic Law, human rights, international business transactions, etc.) and then scatter throughout the region with legal internships that we arrange for them in advance.
In Cambodia, for example, we have students at the Documentation Center of Cambodia and the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (logo at left). Our readers will be familiar with the former organization, which has worked for years to document the crimes of the Khmer Rouge; the latter organization is a full-service human rights organization focused on contemporary abuses, such as forced evictions; denials of fair trial, speech, and assembly rights; and minority rights. (With me below right are two DC-Cam interns from Santa Clara and Yale Law School on a cruise on the Tonle Sap river). Two of our students have summer internships at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, and one will be there on a 6-month internship.
At the moment, I am logged in at the beautiful Nataya Resort outside of Kep on the coast with a view of both Vietnam and Thailand. We leave soon for Siem Riep and the temples of Angkor.


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