Students at the University of Georgian’s journalism school spent more than three weeks in Cambodia recently to learn more about travel writing and the work of foreign correspondents.
Professor John Greenman began offering such trips in 2010. The experience provides students a multitude of story ideas, he said.
“We wanted to report about young people struggling for university education, about entrepreneurial women who take small loans to finance growing companies, about poor rural boys who become monks for education, about men and women who lost legs to landmines, about the culture that has evolved along the banks of the Tonle Sap lake,” he said.
Teacher’s assistant Brian Creech said Cambodia provides rich cultural and historical context in which students can improve their journalism and writing.
“Behind this trip is to have an experience that is very akin to what a professional journalist would do,” he said.
The program works with the Journey Within tour company in Siem Reap. Tour director Norla Phay said US students teach community members English and about the importance of clean water and sanitation, even as they go about their reporting.
“They also help teach our students, who will become core teachers and who will teach the younger generation,” Norla Phay said.
Creech said student are immersed “in a wealth of stories.”
“For anyone who is interested in journalism, it’s an amazing place to go and just start talking to people, to listen to the type of story that comes out,” he said. “It’s not a hard place as a foreigner to come and to learn very interesting things. It’s incredibly heartbreaking, also incredibly uplifting at the same time.”
Sumon Ray, a senior broadcasting student at the university, said he was learning about research and reporting while interacting with local Cambodians.
“I learned the common phrase that they use, ‘same-same but different,’” he said. “And it’s so true. We are all the same as human beings, but at the same time, we are different, and at the same time we can always live in harmony.”
A collection of the student work can be found at http://travelwritingincambodia.wordpress.com/.