However, it is also a very vibrant and exciting time to be working here in what seem to be years so crucially formative to the country's development. To counter the negative stories, we also write about Cambodia's first everything: its first fashion week, first women's business association, first female marathoner, first soccer NGO, first oil discovery or first stock market. There's a new first every week it seems.
As my friend Jennifer Liebschutz, also a Delmar native and BCHS graduate who has been working as an English teacher in Cambodia for more than 3 months now, said, "People are becoming more educated and are starting new businesses in technology and other modern industries every day. The tourism industry is booming, and new hotels are popping up everywhere. Though many people here still struggle to make ends meet, there is hope for a bright future here."
Jen lives in Battambang, a quainter, more rustic area in the north of the country, where I visited a couple of weekends ago. She works for an NGO named Digital Divide Data, where she teaches English to bright Khmer young adults who mostly come from poor rice-farming families in the Cambodian countryside. They have graduated from high school but their families don’t have the funds to send them to university, which costs about $200 per year. She has so far enjoyed the experience, noting how motivated her students are to learn English since they know it is their ticket to a better future. Impressively, after daily lessons, Jen has also become fluent in Khmer!
Jen is one of many passionate expats I have met here. One of the most exciting parts of being a journalist in this reconstructing country is the chance to meet and interview embassy workers, UN and BBC filmmakers, legendary reporters and World Bank microfinance staff. But I think it is more of a privilege to tell the remarkable stories of the Khmer: women entrepreneurs, blind masseurs, Olympic-hopefuls, and Khmer Rouge survivors.