Crossing Cultures & Changing Lives

May 27, 2016

     Mercer On Mission is about crossing cultures and changing lives. Today was our first day in Cambodia. We arrived in Phnom Penh and visited the Royal Palace, the elephant museum, the Killing Fields, and a concentration camp during the Khmer Rouge known as S-21. 

     While in the city, I realized just how different Cambodia is from the United States. There are no traffic laws. There is no such thing as a crosswalk. Everyone drives motorcycles or mopeds and they rarely wear helmets. Today I saw a family of four on one motorcycle. The language and food are very different. Our tour guide told us a story about collecting ant eggs when he was younger to put in a salad. We also learned about religion in Cambodia. The Khmer people are mostly Buddhists, Muslims, and Hindus. Although there are many differences between the two countries, one of the most profound differences is the lifestyle of the people. The average income in Cambodia is about $120.00 per month. Our tour guide pointed out that the income of the Khmer people is used to survive whereas the income of most Americans is used to make themselves comfortable. 

     The Khmer people are some of the most appreciative and hardest working people I have ever met. Despite all these differences, both the Khmer people and Americans all have a story to tell. Today while at the killing fields, we heard numerous accounts of what it was like to survive during the Khmer Rouge. It is inspiring to see such resilience and patriotism for one's country. It is only the first day but my life has already been forever changed. 

Savannah Jones, Nursing Student

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