“there’s a plane leaving anywhere you want right now, and in an hour, and in a day, and in a year. you can get out whenever you want. it’s comforting, i think.”
Each student on the Mekong Semester was required to pursue an Independent Study Project, or ISP. At the beginning, I had no idea what I wanted my topic to be, and vaguely considered food or even mobile phone usage in the region. One day in Phnom Penh, I recalled a book I read last summer: Half the Sky, by Nicholas Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn. The byline is: “Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” and discusses pressing issues women all over the world face, from a lack of adequate maternal health care to a denial of education. A couple chapters are also devoted to the subject of human trafficking and prostitution, especially in India and Southeast Asia. This is what I remembered in Phnom Penh, and I went back in my Kindle and found the specific Cambodian NGO’s mentioned in said chapters. Now here was an issue that interested me, that I felt passionately about, that I could see myself following over the course of the following three months. Given the fact that we traveled through several very different countries where the circumstances varied considerably, my topic was modified according to where we were. Thus, it sometimes centered more on women’s issues in smaller communities, and it did not always bear relation to the sex trade.
I have decided to type up the notes I used to present my ISP to the group in Hongpo village and post them here because I believe that this is an important issue that often goes unrecognized and ignored by far too many. If you can take the time, please read:
Hawaiian parable quoted in Half the Sky with which I ended my ISP presentation.
taken by the lovely Melanie (voyageant.tumblr.com) at the end of our first day trekking in Tibet