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Film Star Jackie Chan on Arts, Culture, Peace

When film star and martial artist Jackie Chan visited Cambodia earlier this month, he brought a simple message: arts and culture are pathways to peace.

Chan spoke to 600 students and others at the University of Cambodia, focusing on a message of world peace, reminding participants that the world is a village, and that its residents should love one another despite race, complexion and social status.

“He encouraged the younger generation to build a culture of peace,” said Kao Kim Hourn, founder of the University of Cambodia, which conferred an honorary doctoral degree in humanities to Chan.

Chan, a celebrity who had his start in Chinese films after a childhood with little education, has become a role model for the young, sponsoring educational institutes and serving as a goodwill ambassador for Unicef and UNAIDS.

Speaking as part of the Asean “Bridges” program, Chan told students that the Earth is a tiny disc when viewed from the moon, a reminder of how small the place is.

“When he was young, he asked himself, as a human being who lives on Planet Earth, before he passed away, what could he leave for the younger generation,” said Eung Kim Muyly, a freshmen of international relations at the University of Cambodia. “We can take those words under consideration, and we will feel that we also want to do something proper for our Planet Earth and leave something valuable for our planet, as he is doing now.”

Asked about the ongoing row between Cambodian and Thailand, Chan told participants it was a matter to be settled among political leaders.

“If we know well the definition of peace, our people wouldn’t have had demonstrations to cause confrontations among both countries,” said Ky Vannaroath, a sophomore of computer science at the university. “If a person loves peace, if 100 people love peace, if everyone loves peace, then there’s no conflict. After I listened to him, I felt I must study hard. He talked about being broke when he was a student, but I have an opportunity and I therefore must study hard for my future as well as for the future of my country."