Culture Shock

I’m going to skip over the near 20 hours we spent on a plane to arrive in Phnom Penh, because I don’t think anyone wants to relive that; but I must say it was more than worth it.

I knew that being here would be different but the streets are literally out of a movie. From venders selling fruits and chairs on the street to the hundreds of mopeds and tuk-tuks, the city never stops.

As amazing as the whole scene is, the measure of poverty that resides here is overwhelming and heartbreaking. Our first day walking the streets we were approached by a little boy, no less than 3 or 4 years old, who was missing his left hand. We learned that when children are born with deformities their mothers and families often reject them, leaving them to beg on the streets or get caught up in a “pimp” system. We give them food but no money, as to not encourage them to continue begging and make it their sole job.

Streets of Phnom Penh

Streets of Phnom Penh

There are also many beautiful aspects to the city, such as the Royal Palace which we visited our first day. It blows my mind how they have all of these rich clothes and crowns make of pure gold and hundreds of diamonds, and yet have so much poverty still remaining throughout. We learned about the clothes and history of Cambodia which was fascinating. It feels like a sauna 24/7 but I’m so busy taking everything in around me that I hardly notice it, believe it or not.

We also visited the Daughters of Cambodia NGO, the focus of my group’s documentary project. Although we did not get to truly interact and meet the girls who were one of the 19,000 currently in the sex trafficking of Phnom Penh, it is evident how impactful and helpful this program is to get girls out and give them a fair opportunity in society. Everything is all so inspiring.

Just from this first day I already feel so changed and in constant awe of what is around me, I can’t imagine what else we will encounter.


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