Week 2: Climate Change & Exploring Phnom Penh

On Saturday we visited the Coeung Ek Killing Fields, memorializing the genocide committed by the Khmer Rouge. The regime brutally killed 3 million of Cambodia’s 8 million people over the course of four years. Bullets were a precious commodity, so people – men, women, and children – were bludgeoned to death with various farming tools. Choeung Ek was the site of several mass graves. The earth is sunken in a maze of trench-like pits still visible beneath the grass today. The Memorial Stupa houses the skulls of many of the people killed at Choeung Ek. The Cambodians have created the memorial as a quiet place of healing. The audio tour tells the dark story, allowing each visitor to listen and process in their own time, although the atrocities that took place there are truly inconceivable.

The Killing Fields are about a 20-30 minute tuk tuk ride out of the city. We negotiated with a tuk tuk driver in front of Russian Market who was willing to take us and wait for us for the return. We saw the more industrial end of the city and a small glimpse into rural Cambodia. After a somber morning, we retreated to a café for lunch and some reading. I found Phnom Penh’s rock climbing gym and did some bouldering in the afternoon! Sunday was another day of sight seeing. Starting with Wat Phnom, the outside of the US Embassy, the central market, Wat Langka, and the Riverfront.

I’ve learned a lot more about the scope and details of my project since my last post. Until I met with my supervisor at the end of last week, I didn’t realize the extent to which I’d be working with detailed data sets, creating data visualizations and mapping. I’m still in the process of familiarizing myself with the various sources and have not yet gotten to the point of creating and playing with the visualizations. As I dive deeper into the data world, it will be great learning process and introduce me to new skill sets.

After spending last week researching, note taking, and outlining, I started writing Monday morning. I drafted about 3,000 words and over 70 footnotes in two full work days that were primarily dedicated to writing the climate change topic page. I got positive feedback on the draft, which I will continue to edit and finalize. I anticipate that getting all of the proper citations, links, data sets, visualizations, and maps embedded will take time and attention to detail. That process will come a little later. I have the opportunity to collaborate and exchange sources with an ODM research associate based in Thailand who is an expert on climate change adaptation, which will be helpful as I dive into the Adaptation and Mitigation pages.

Several people from East West Management Institute based out of New York have been in town the last week or so for meetings relating to ODM and ODC. I had an opportunity to speak with them, learn more about the projects they’ve overseen, places they’ve lived, and how they got involved in the international development world. From what I’ve learned so far, it is a fascinating and rewarding world to be a part of.

Memorial Stupa

Memorial Stupa Skulls

Choeung Ek

Climbing Gym

Wat Phnom