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Cambodia Summer Program.

To the Tourists Who Came on the Van

You arrive at the campsite in a cloud of dust. Air conditioned van with cushioned seats with blue flowers on them. Two screeching horns, and you’re here.

You, with your neon tank tops and denim cutoff shorts and your loud lunch conversations and your constant flashes, stand among colorful kromahs and patterned skirts and loud electric fans and black skinny dogs. But you’re not here.

You are not in Cambodia, not really. You stand among the Khmer people, but not with them. You talk to the little dancers, but you don’t communicate. You see, but you don’t experience.

You, with your bus of cool air and bright tank tops and shiny cameras, brought your home country with you and refused Cambodia.

It’s squatty-potties,

It’s bucket showers,

It’s motorcycles,

It’s mosquito nets,

It’s dirt roads,

And it’s people.

The strong women, shy toddlers, hardworking men, and energetic teens.

You didn’t see Cambodia. You saw not my home country.