The above song lyrics were a driving force for me throughout the trip and a pre cursor to my predicted feelings upon returning home. Being back in the face of Western reality, I was reminded of the saying, “Be the change you wish to see in the world (Mahatma Ghandi).” I realized that instead of measuring my time, worth and accomplishments in Cambodia, what was more important was the way that I conduct myself as a global citizen especially in the face of adversity. We are not responsible nor in control of the thoughts or actions of others except unto ourselves and in order to enact positive change in the world we must first begin with ourselves.
A woman I met at TlaiTno reminded me how perception and the perceived can be a dangerous thing. She informed me after I used the word poverty that this was just my perception and not necessarily how the Khmer people perceived themselves. It reiterated a sensitivity that is needed when we listen remaining free from judgment and how individual circumstances are just that. As Dr. Simon Springer said, ‘Is it really a choice?’ Therefore is it truly our right to condemn others because we feel that our experience or someone else’s is (in our eyes) ‘worse’ or that we (assume) that we would do something different without ever truly experiencing another’s circumstance?
Whilst I largely learnt about cultural awareness and sensitivity, what this trip more importantly taught me was about human sensitivity. Regardless of where you are from or where you are located in the world, we are all human and we are all navigating our journey as best we can. Even though I agree with Worth (2015) that works of art can provide us with simulated or “off-line” emotional responses that could not be achieved otherwise, I also believe that more importantly, if we allow it, so too can the art form of the human being.
Ferreira H, Whitener T, Vest J & Taul M 2004, After we go, Tantric – After we go, Warner/Chappell Music Inc
Worth S 2015, Art and Epistemology, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy [Online] Available at: http://www.iep.utm.edu/art-ep/ [Accessed 23rd July 2015]