In April 2016, Kanha Reath visited the U.S. to speak about her experiences as a Journeys Within Our Community scholarship student as well as a Journeys Within tour guide. Upon her return, she shared these memories with all of us…
I would like to let you know that I am back home. On Sunday I had a great time with my family as I missed Khmer New Year during my U.S. trip. Thank you so much for hosting me and showing me around while I was there. It was one of the most amazing trips of my life.
Each place was different and it is hard to say which one is my favorite. I loved them all. However, there are some things that are different from here [Cambodia] and were very interesting to me and I would like to share those with you.
- As soon as I got off the plane, I noticed the roads are much better organized. Every 20 meters on freeways there are always signs with directions. That is great, you don’t get lost on those roads. Of course, GPS directions also amazed me.
- Mountains and snow are amazing to me. I have never seen snow in my life. So touching and eating it on this trip was one of the best memories.
- Your people are willing to help others. As I traveled to meetings all over, I felt very grateful to those who have been supporting JWOC.
- Traffic and how people driving respect the rules. They stop when you cross the road. You don’t see this in Cambodia.
- The water system is very great. You can drink water from anywhere. Not in Cambodia.
- Very impressive to see your large universities. I have been to three universities (one in Sacramento, one in San Diego, one in Los Angeles) and they are totally different from here. For example: The U.S. Davis university is gigantic. We walked for 2.5 hours nonstop and our guides said we saw only 25% of the campus. That really shocked me as here in Cambodia universities often have only a few buildings.
- Tall buildings and apartments are exciting to see and compare to Siem Reap. For example: the skylines of Downtown Los Angeles and San Fransisco.
- The Getty museum is very interesting. I can’t believe you can visit for free. Very interesting to learn about your history and as well as the world history. I loved to walk around and see the amazing view and admire how smart it was for those people to make this.
- In the restaurants you always line up or wait until the waitress comes and take syou to your seats. It’s not usually that way in Cambodia. Coffee is refilled, not in Cambodia. If you drink 3 cups you pay for 3 back home.
- Cash does not seem important in your country; but it is here in Cambodia.
- At gas station you do self-service (not in Portland though). In Cambodia we always have people to pump gass for us.
- Every home has a washing machine, dish washer, clean water, electric cooker, etc. And it looks very nice and tidy in the kitchen as plates and all items are in cabinets. I called them “hiding places.” I love your kitchens.
However, there are some other interesting things that I noticed that scared me a little bit, but not that badly. Other visitors may have the same or different experiences.
- People at the immigration are not friendly at all. I wish they would smile and welcomed people to your country. I guess their job may require them to act as they do.
- There are homeless people along the street in Long Beach and Portland. That made me compare between two societies in your country – those people having beautiful homes and cars, and those who have no homes at all. I know every country has these problems – we have them here in Cambodia too – but I would not expect to see them in the U.S.
- People in bigger cities are less friendly than those in smaller cities. That is normal, but it was interesting to see and practice behaving in a different way.
All in all, this trip was really amazing. It is the best experience of traveling. I have learned a lot from it including technology and modern systems, and especially to be independent, confident, and to travel lightly.
Thank you everyone again for your hospitality and sharing. You all made my trip unforgettable.
I do hope my trip can help JWOC raise more money and you and your family will continue to help Cambodians achieve a bright future.