Cambodia welcomes SST

In a world where changes in a country's political situation often leads to societal and economic change, Goshen College isn't shy about bearing witness. Yet student safety and opportunity are paramount in considering destinations for Study-Service Term (SST) units.

When Director of International Education Tom Meyers began to receive information about political instability in Indonesia last fall, he began exploring alternative Southeast Asia options.

"Since first sending a group in 1995, we have had wonderful experiences in Indonesia and at the Duta Wacana University there, but feel we cannot take the risk at this time of sending students to a place that is potentially unstable," Meyers said. "Asia is part of the world that is developing the most rapidly. The whole subcontinent will be increasingly important in our global economy. We want to continue to have access to this part of the world for our students."

With experienced leaders Professor of Bible, Religion and Philosophy Keith Graber Miller and his wife Ann, 23 SSTers will head to Cambodia in January 2007. The unit will be on a three-year rotation.

The group will spend the first six weeks in the capital, Phnom Penh, studying language (Khmer) and culture at the Royal University of Phnom Penh. Students will then be placed in service assignments around the country, including with nongovernmental organizations. Mennonite Central Committee has a large presence in the country and helped Meyers make some contacts toward creating a dynamic network for student learning and experiences.

Cambodia's communist history, including Pol Pot's violent regime of the 1970s and its involvement in the Vietnam War, will be central to students' learning. "As Americans we have some ongoing issues of reconciliation with Southeast Asia related to the effect of the Vietnam War on that area and on us here in the United States," Meyers said.