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Profiles
The LPS teachers and administrators plan to use the
information they gathered on the exchange and share it with
colleagues as they develop lesson plans and ways to improve
relationships with local parents and students. "LPS has a
Cambodian student population of 30 to 40 percent and many
students, particularly the younger ones, do not know much
about their own history and culture. They do not know about
the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime," said Chea. "Our
goal now is to develop an exchange program so Cambodian
educators can learn about our system, as we have learned about
theirs. We also enjoy being able to partner with Middlesex in
this collaborative effort."
MCC Art Professor Jan Arabas said the exchange trip was "a
life-changing experience." She plans to develop a course on
Cambodian art, much of which consists of frescos on walls that
teach a story about the country and its people. While in
Cambodia, Arabas taught a three-day course in figure drawing,
for which she found and purchased supplies because there are
very few art supplies available. She also visited artists and
attended workshops.
Priscilla Eng, an MCC Humanities Professor, teaches English-
language courses to many Cambodian Middlesex students. She
plans to infuse Cambodian literature into her classes, even
though there is a dearth of Cambodian writers in translation.
Eng also plans to design a Service-Learning project for
Middlesex students in Cambodia. Many of MCC's Cambodian
students return there in the summer to visit relatives and
would be interested in participating.
Humanities Professor Claire Kamasaki uses American popular
culture as the theme throughout her Composition I courses at
Middlesex. As the focus of her exchange visit, she explored
how much U.S. "pop culture" had made its way to Cambodia.
Kamasaki looked at how each culture communicates to the
other and focused on Cambodian road signs and other visuals
as a method of communication. She took photos of wonderful
contemporary signs used throughout the country and hopes to
infuse some elements of Cambodian popular culture into her
courses.
MCC Art Professor Margaret Rack studied traditional
Cambodian pottery and how it is made today. She met
Cambodian professors and students, and also found that
programs are severely lacking in resources. Rack met with a
professor who worked many years ago in Phnom Penh with an
artist now working in Lowell. She hopes to build a Cambodian
kiln for LPS and MCC students, and local potters to use and
share skills.
MCC Music Professor Johanna Segarich visited the Royal
University of Fine Arts (RUFA), which was nearly destroyed
by the Khmer Rouge. RUFA is now trying to establish a viable
music program and a national symphony orchestra. Segarich
taught a class and attended a musical performance there. She
hopes to send Western stringed instruments to Cambodia, and
establish a program of teaching Khmer music here.
"This Fulbright-Hays grant reflects the important need to
expand the ability of K-12 and college educators to work
together to understand the history and culture of Cambodia,
and create quality learning experiences," said Dunn. "We want
teachers from all levels talking to each other. Change is the
dynamic here. Cambodia is still developing and evolving.
There are major differences between the cities and the rural
villages. I think the work that results from this grant will be
inspiring and useful for years to come."
Deborah Kearney