My Mekong Peace Journey 2011

by Tung, Vietnam

Before the journey, I wondered many times whether this journey was worth my two weeks studying and working in Viet Nam or not. Now I have my own answer, but I will let you guess until the end of this note.

In terms of knowledge, I have learned countless information that I could never learn from anywhere else. I liked Dr. Chaiwat’s personal perception of peace and his humor in sharing his knowledge. I was attracted by Dr. Sopheak sincere talk about his work and Cambodian history. All our resource people were so friendly and ready to support, which make me feel confident in the next steps of developing our peace journey. Moreover, I’ve learned a lot from my friends also. Pao’s wrinkled eyebrows when he talked about poor people in Cambodia or tears on my Burmese sister’s face when she shared her own story made me understand more and empathize with my neighboring countries’ people.

In terms of experience, I perceived keenly the hope of living in peace from both Thai and Cambodian villagers who live near the border. They used to be friends, but now are separated by armies and weapons. They used to cultivate on their own lands, but now are homeless and struggle to survive. Why must they suffer the most while they don’t ask for war? In Thailand, I saw more physical impacts of the conflict (at the primary school and in the village), while in Cambodia, I saw more emotional influences (in the soldiers’ wives’ story and their children’seyes). However, no matter which way the consequences of war are expressed, they both raised in me, for the first time, the feeling of responsibility to prevent the war. Fortunately, the governors from Si Saket and PreahVihear province have the same hope with me, even though their points of view may be different.

In terms of feeling, I have to change my own definition of love. I was surprised that my Thai host family called me their son and save the best dish of chicken for me, although I just stayed at their house for less than one day. I nearly burst into tears when the villagers inPhumsarol tied the friendship strings to my wrist and tried to speak Thai to me. It was no need to understand Thai, because their tight hugs and sincere smiles told me what they said were all beautiful things. At the night at SCADP center in Cambodia, I couldn’t sleep since it was very cold, so I went out early to wait for the sunrise. I couldn’t believe in my eyes that some children secretly slept outside to save the inside place for us. It was uneasy for me to let the children sacrifice and suffer the cold, but I was happy also because it made me understood their love for us.

I have a lot of beautiful memories in this journey, but the most impressive to me is the image of the young teacher at SCADP center. He modestly stayed at the back of the class went we came, leaving the board to our group. His face looked a little bit worried, but his eyes were full of hope. At this moment, I felt that he was the embodiment of Cambodian people. They are modest, ready to welcome the others but they still fear the bad things will happen. However, they never give up their hope, and they are continuing to sow the seeds of peace and love into the young generations.

We are coming to the end of my note, so I have to answer the question raised at the beginning, right? Please check your guess: For me, the journey is invaluable and I will not sacrifice it for anything else.




About mekongpeacejourney

We are the Mekong Working for Peace, consisting of young adult peacemakers of the Mekong Region.
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