Doors to Diplomacy Project ID: 7305

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Rafflesians in Cambodia 2011
Category: 8. Arts and Culture

School: Raffles Institution
    Singapore, Singapore, Singapore

4 students, ages 15 worked together to complete this Doors to Diplomacy project on March 1, 2012. They have participated in Doors to Diplomacy in the following year(s): 2011

Classes and Teachers: Eric Koh, Ying Yilun, Lim Wei Khai, Lee Chin Wee, Gaius Ong

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Team

A group of like-minded individuals deeply curious about the developments in Cambodia nearly 40 years after the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime came together on a trip to said country, under the banner of the study of the humanities.

We pulled our weight in the strength of various domains – namely, service learning, creative writing and video documenting. Armed with an arsenal of tech gadgets and a plethora of talents, we trawled Cambodia from the backward regions of Siem Reap to the relatively developed capital, Phnom Penh. The children of Cambodia are the immediate beneficiaries of our service – we taught them the alphabet and introduced several games to them, and donated stationery and tennis balls to them.

This website explores the various facets of Cambodia that the average tourist to Phnom Penh would not uncover. It draws attention to the plight of the widows left behind by the dead Khmer Rouge soldiers, as well as getting in touch with popular or up-and-coming Cambodian writers emerging from an era where most of the literature at hand is dark and foreboding.

2. Summary of Our Project

The team travelled in ascension of modernity – from the countryside of Siem Reap to the city of Phnom Penh. We were first unsure of what to record, choosing instead to capture numerous pictures of skulls in a tiny memorial of the victims of the Khmer Rouge. However, as we spent more time in the country with the aid of our wonderful Guide Tida, we grew to appreciate the finer print in a country soon to be over-washed with oversized, commercial billboards. We started recording videos that signified more than just tourist attractions – street children numbering off in foreign tongues like English and Mandarin, interviews with up-and-coming Cambodian writers shaking off the cobwebs of the frightening Khmer Rouge etc.

3. Our Computer and Internet Access

A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%

B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:more than 6

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection

D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:more than 6

E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):

Internet access was an accessible premium in Cambodia thanks to the rapid development of infrastructure over the years.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

In our hotel in Siem Reap when the first reports were due, we were unable to get a suitable internet connection in our rooms. Heading down to the lobby flustered and sweaty the staff kindly allowed us to borrow their own private connection, which solved our problem. We also faced a little bit of a culture shock when we saw the living conditions of some children we taught while on the service learning project - it was also disheartening to see politicians live in relative luxury while right next to them there were dirty streets occupied by squatters. We had to adjust to this new situation at the same time as warding off pickpockets.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

Participation in Doors to Diplomacy has opened our eyes to the situation in the third world countries, of which only a filtered and cushioned perspective gets to us through mainstream media.

6. How did your activities and research for this Doors to Diplomacy Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?

We addressed the history of Cambodia rising from the dregs of the Khmer Rouge, and also assessed the current literary scene. To accomplish the former, we travelled to predictable places like the Angkor, but also managed to get interviews with widows left behind by the communities as their husbands had been Khmer soldiers. The latter was less ominous, we learnt how to speak a little Cambodian and thus could communicate in a mix of English and Cambodian to the young writers of Cambodia over dinner. We managed to understand the effects of globalization and we discovered that we had a tremendous role to play in educating our school community about the actual state of Cambodia - rising third world state, not a falling one. The internet has helped our website to reach a wider audience due to its sheer accessibility.

Project Elements

1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your Doors to Diplomacy project?

We primarily used video and digital cameras, while also conducting interviews with Asian writers and informal ones with our tour guide, herself a survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime. We pulled up interesting soundbites here and there outside our buses in our encounters with the street children as well.

2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your Doors to Diplomacy project both on-line and in person.

We have managed to get our school community to visit the site so as to get a better picture of the situation in Cambodia through a series of announcements and advertisements.

Through our website we have managed to get certain local writers here in Singapore to contact us about possible avenues to develop their connections with the writers we have met overseas, and have also expressed a pointed interest in looking at some of our work for publication, expressing how impressed they have been.

3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?

Our parents were surprised when they saw our website - some of them have been to Cambodia but have never discovered that their own tour guides had certain lacunas in their explanation. They have learnt about the rising literary scene in Cambodia and so have the school community, when they expressed interest in what exactly happened in Cambodia that made for such an insightful website. Apart from our students, we have had prominent local writers scan our site for material, and some random people who have chanced upon it also praised us for the marvelous pictures and videos that we captured and that they have learnt a lot more about Cambodia.

4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?

Our project involved the Cambodian people, mostly, for agreeing to be in our pictures and videos, and Mr Loven Ramos who has acquiesced to 60 minutes with us talking about local writing. We would also like to thank the teachers left behind in Singapore who fed us valuable material over email.


View our Doors to Diplomacy Project (Project ID: 7305)

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