The Gift of Cambodia The people of Cambodia have been through countless struggles. Their hardships have instilled a quality of culture unique to Cambodia. From reading Cambodian poetry, proverbs, and significant symbols, I have learned that Cambodia’s gift to the world is strength. It is strength that has helped this country persist and hope for a better tomorrow.
My partner Phearun Chorn sent me a proverb, symbol, and poem, which she thought best represented her country, Cambodia. Each of these pieces revealed a sense of strength through wholeness, courage, and religion.
The proverb Phearun sent me stated that if you are knowledgeable, be knowledgeable enough to be respected, and if you are stupid, be stupid enough to be sympathized. At first this proverb seems simplistic, but actually it is quite intelligent. The moral is that if one is either really smart or stupid one can still win peoples attention, but to fall in between and somewhat undefined is where one will be paid no attention to. Value is clearly placed on being whole and fully one thing, and the reward earned by being whole, is strength; strength to be listened to, noticed, and cared about.
The symbol that best embodies Cambodia is the Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is the only temple, on site, to have remained a significant religious center since its foundation. To the Cambodian people this temple is deeply meaningful as it is one of the few to survive since the 12th century. The Angkor Wat is also found on the Cambodian flag, further signifying its importance to its country. Cambodia has been through much trouble due to its religious beliefs that clashed with other countries beliefs. However this temple
still stands, and it provides strength in the form of hope. It is proof that religion has survived the many wars and genocide that has defined Cambodia’s past.
The poem, Searching for Dad, by Cambodian poet, U Sam Oeur, reflects on the Khmer Rouge and the loss of the speakers father. The Khmer Rouge was the communist movement, in which slave labor, malnutrition, poor medical care, and executions were respon sible for the death of 1.7 to 2.5 million Cambodians, about one fifth of the countries population. The poem describes how the Khmer Rouge separated father and son, and the Pol Pot, the leader of this communist movement, killed the speakers’ father. The speaker states that his father was a man of faith who built temples, yet Pol Pot killed him. All the speaker wants to do is find his father and he wonders, “where the skeleton is concealed”. This is a very meaningful and direct poem. It clearly and brutally describes one of the greatest hardships Cambodia has experienced. Through the writers’ bold detail, I see a sense of strength. The speaker has accepted the fact that this tragedy has happened and is now longing for closure. I believe that Cambodia as a country is strong for holding through this tragic time and continuing to follow their beliefs.
Cambodia has displayed hope, faith, and persistence in the hardest of times. They are an example that life and culture can survive if you never let go of these three things. I believe it is the Cambodian values that give them strength and somehow get them through. Cambodia’s gift to the world is strength; and they know everything about it.