Five years in the making. I am finally, officially en route to Cambodia.
It’s a short trip that will probably feel long.
I am joining a dozen individuals, students and practitioners of mental health who are working and/or living in the US. The program is described at best as a short term bicultural immersion and exchange experience. Visits to the Royal University of Phnom Penh, Russian market, and The killing fields are a few things listed on the itinerary.
I am pleased to be in a student role again, as demonstrated by my completion of the assigned readings and film prior to my flight. The articles provided some context for the aftermath of the genocide, and the war itself. However, after watching The Killing Fields (assigned film) and reading the book First they Killed my Father (recommended book), I was full with confusion as to the purpose of this trip. For me. Sure, some understanding of the Khmer people will be had and I may even gain some perspective that can inform my work, but to enter a land so fresh with trauma and transition to learn…what exactly? Purpose, what is my purpose?
The back story to this is I learned about this program five years ago and made a personal commitment to go purely based on feedback I heard from friends and acquaintances who visited. My prolonged ambivalence about this trip when it became plausible is noteworthy and likely to be completely indicative of some personal soul stretching and less about the program. But it probably explains my thoughtfulness and fixation about purpose.
For now, I know nothing. I chuckle as I think that I may return not knowing much more.
For now I am with hope while shedding expectations, hyper vigilant to my own process, cautious, and attuned.