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Elective Competition Winner 2017

By Amy Lee

Elective Competition Winner 2017

Meet Amy Lee, a medical  student from Queen Mary, University of London and one of the winners of our Wesleyan Elective Competition 2017.  Here she shares with us her elective experience in Cambodia!

Here's Amy's third  update on her elective trip in Cambodia.

Walking the Narrow Bridge of Hope

I have met the princess and the pauper of Cambodia. The princess I had the honour of meeting at a house-warming party one evening. Dolled up in her floral dress and golden dangling earrings, she dazzled the adults by introducing herself in English, a language I have come to observe, as being equated with wealth in this area.

In contrast, I chanced upon the pauper in the shadows of the night while walking around the busy town center. Huddled by a bridge in her dirt-stained clothing, our eyes met and she immediately clasped her hands together begging for money.

When Pol Pot decided to take Cambodia back to "Year Zero", his regime turned the hands of the clock backwards with such force that till today, the struggle to restore the forward ticking of time remains for its people.

As quoted by one of the locals, "You may complain of corruption, but at least you have roads and electricity wherever you go in your countries".  

Yet, whatever the people of Cambodia may lack in terms of financial prosperity, they more than make up for with their creativity and resilience. 

"First They Killed My Father" is a movie based on the book and true story of Loung Ung who paints vivid pictures of the fear, the hunger, and the destruction her family suffered at the hands of the Khmer Rouge.

A week ago, I was treated to a vibrant retelling of this story through bold brush strokes and breath-taking acrobatic feats of the performers at Phare, the Cambodian circus.

The performance titled Sokha, tells of a girl's journey to leave behind the haunting memories of the Khmer Rouge through the joining of a performing arts school.

At the climax of the performance, she deftly manoeuvers a bow and arrow using her feet to burst a balloon which represents the vanquishing of those dark memories.

Amy-PaintingEach member of the performance is a live retelling of the story, for Phare works with disadvantaged youth, giving them the opportunity to train as performers as well as supporting their education.

Most importantly, while not forgetting the past which has shaped them, the story has now become the bridge with which the people are using to cross over into a better future.

I remember as I write, conversations I had with two of my new friends, one a resident oncology fellow and another, a tuk-tuk driver by day and a voluntary community English teacher by night.

"She looked at me and told me that if she was going to die, she wanted to do so at home. She was only eleven…Here, sometimes the surgeons are still afraid to operate on tumours…I want to share with people that cancer is no longer a death sentence."

"Here they only start learning English in secondary school, and even then it is only about two hours a week. My dream is to return to my hometown and open up many more schools to teach English"


Watch out for more updates from Amy on her elective adventures!

Are you going on an elective? Head off on your travels safe in the knowledge that we've got you covered for problems such as cancellations for exam re-sit cancellations, HIV needle-stick injuries or unforeseen medical expenses with elective insurance from Wesleyan.

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