So far, life in Cambodia’s been quite a different, but enjoyable experience. Having spent a significant amount of time in China with host-families and intensive Chinese language and history/culture classes, it seemed for a bit, and still to a degree now, that I would never understand Cambodia the way I feel I understand China. However, I’ve decided that this is a kind of flawed logic and really the only distinction is that in China I had all the tools to learn the culture handed to me, whereas here I’ve only come to work and so it falls on me to learn the culture and society. I’ve decided to seek out a Khmer tutor to help me learn more about Cambodia and the Khmer people. While I haven’t started lessons yet I really think this will be a helpful and, at least partially, enlightening experience.
At the magazine, we’ve just hit our monthly publication date and so we all went out to celebrate. Since I arrived right in the middle of this month’s publication, I missed out on the opportunity to propose article ideas and to really be a part of the print aspect of the publication. So I’m excited on monday to bring my ideas and proposals in with me, having already run some of them by another writer on the team who was actually an intern only just before I arrived. He’s been very helpful, I think because he can absolutely empathize with my position as an intern who’s role in the magazine isn’t totally defined. My ideas so far have been a longform article on the military’s involvement in the jade mining industry in Myanmar, which is about as exploitative as the ‘blood diamond’ industry, but has failed to capture the same amount of ears, internationally. A piece on how mega-dams along the Mekong River, mainly constructed in upstream countries like China and Laos, have been built to appease the Paris Climate Agreement, but in reality only cause significantly more harmful consequences in downstream countries like Vietnam and Cambodia than the issues they’ve set out to resolve. And a piece on how Facebook is prioritizing profit over freedom of speech by instituting self-censorship policies in Thailand and Vietnam in order to fall in line with the ‘lese-majeste’ law in Thailand and the national censorship law in Vietnam. For now though I’m enjoying an ‘Australian burger’ as I wait out the latest bout of rain of monsoon season.