Monday, October 29, 2012

Rose Coloured Glasses

I haven't even been in Cambodia one month and I've already written several posts about how much I love this country. Sunny weather, kind people and cheap food-alcohol-transportation-massages-clothes-pretty much everything... in the words of Coldplay, "this could be para-para-paradise".

As much as I love it here, sometimes I see things that remind me I'm in a developing and very poor country. Today for example, I saw a dog (probably a stray) with a leg so injured he couldn't even walk on it and when I stopped to offer him a cracker, he was so scared he ran away without eating it; A boy in my new grade one class that I'm almost positive has some sort of mental deficiency pretty much just sat there the whole time because I could only give him so much attention and obviously the school can't afford extra one-on-one support; Several kids today were scolded in ways I think are wildly inappropriate (nothing terrible, but still).

As much as these occurrences may bother me, I also feel that there isn't much I can do about them. I can't grab the dog and take him to a vet (to be honest I don't even know if vets exist here), I can't pay for a support worker for the potentially mentally challenged boy in my class (again, I'm not even sure such a job exists) and I can't tell Cambodians how to run their school/treat their students (provided they're not actually abusing them). I may disagree, but I also have to respect how things work here and not expect everything to happen as it might in a more developed country. Too often does the Western world try to impose their views and and ways of doing things in other parts of the world only to end up aggravating the situation and doing more harm than good.

The things I saw today are really only the tip of the iceberg for what I would consider to be concerns in Cambodia. It's a country still in recovery from the atrocities it suffered less than 40 years ago under the rule of the Khmer Rouge and problems here are numerous. But I think that all I can do is what I'm already doing: Be the best English teacher I can be and hopefully contribute in some small way to a brighter future for some pretty awesome kids.

I haven't changed my mind about Cambodia. I really do love it here. I write this post not to bash Cambodia in any way but simply to remind myself of where I am and to not always look at things through rose coloured glasses.


Anonymous said...

Love the title of this blog and glad to read your thoughts on some of the disturbing things you are witnessing and experiencing along with all of the amazing things. Be well- m

Wondering and Wandering said...

I appreciate your kind words M, thank you for reading!