Monday, December 20, 2010

Farewell US

NORMAL, Ill. – Going to lunch with a bunch of friends, talking in the lounge while eating crackers and cheese, walking in the beautiful squad, swapping stories at the International Friendship Family's house, joking with the roommate before bed, screaming “Go Redbird”, and recently, seeing the snow, scarves and gloves will remain only in their memory.

They have packed, partied and hugged goodbye. Some will be leaving with the grief of missing good friends they have met in this land while others are joyful to reunite with their family and friends.

December simply ends the semester for some but for many exchange students, it marks the end of their time in the U.S.

“Time flies while you are having fun,” said Wen Hu, an exchange student from China. “We have flown thousands of miles from our homes, and that we have to speak, read, write and almost think all 24 hours of the day in English had already come to an end.”

Stephanie Gonzalez, International Student and Scholar Advisor, said exchange students have made the campus livelier. “These exchange students have inspired and motivated our U.S. students to set the bar for global understanding even higher. Meanwhile, we have tried our best to provide those exchange students with the same experience from ISU,” she said.

Mark Whitley, a resident on Manchester Hall’s International Floor, also agreed with Gonzalez. “I have learned a lot from the exchange students coming each semester,” he said, “and the only bad part I can think of is that I always feel depressed at the end of each semester since I have to say goodbye to them every time.”

Meanwhile, Song Yi Lee, another exchange student from South Korea, also expresses her sadness when she has to leave.

“I enjoy every second in ISU,” said Lee. “I haven’t had enough of ISU and America yet. Specially, I just cannot stop missing my crazy friends and my beloved host family here.”

Most of ISU’s exchange students have a chance to experience home away from home because their host family. Therefore, it must be a heartbreaking moment for exchange students and their host family once they have to say goodbye, probably forever.

“Song Yi is like my very own daughter,” said Paula Crowley, Lee’s host mother. “She has brought a lot of good memory to our family, and we will surely remember her forever.”

Studying in America has surely become a life changing experience for most of the exchange students.

"My study abroad experience taught me a lot, both in and outside of the classroom," Tatiana Regina Montanari, an exchange student from Brazil, explained. "It strengthened my academic platform, gave me experience with intercultural relations, taught me much about American culture and made me a more independent person. I encourage all students to go and study abroad! It will be the experience of a lifetime and will change the way you see the world and your place in it."

Culture shock has always been the main barrier for international students coming to a different country. Nevertheless, most exchange students often neglect that same issue when returning back to their home country.

“It might sound weird to have culture shock in your own country. However, some students may have already familiarized themselves with the condition here that when they go back they will have a hard time adjusting to the environment of their home country,” said Gonzalez.

Most students will go back using the knowledge and experience they gained in America to their professional life whereas some still claim they need more experience from this country.

“My life in the U.S. has not ended yet,” Montanari added. “You will see this face in ISU in the next few years as a graduate student I promise.”

In Fall 2010, ISU hosted 56 exchange students from 24 different countries, 29 of whom will be leaving the campus next week. In Spring 2011, 18 more will be coming to join the ISU family.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Portluck Party

My favorite dishes every


International Students

My friend and her Sweden friend

With my folks
It is Wednesday's evening, and all new international students around 200 are invited to join a portluck party. We were given a number, and I was told it was the lucky draw. I saw number 3 or 4 of number 13 so I picked that number since I thought it was something to do in group work. I did see some number that existed only 1 so I didn't pick.
People were asking where I were from, and I told them Cambodia. They were so surprised because it is the first time for most of them to see a Cambodian. I am that happy about being unique and the only one here. OK now it came the eating time and I swear it was my best food since I come to ISU. I didn't have time to take a picture since people were in queue. I could eat a lot of Asian food, especially my favorite Chinese food with rice. My goodness I was so grateful for the evening. The second section of the program is the lucky draw, and guess what. The number with the least holder won the first prize. My friend from Malaysia got around 30 people who share the same number to her. Poor her she got a sticker and a pencil. I got a Tshirt. I should have picked the number that had only one. There were around ten people who won the big prize which are bicycle, tv, refrigerator, and money. My gosh... I am so jealous.
I am going to have a picnic on Saturday, so I hope it going to be fun

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

First day at ISU

Phew.... I am done with clothes hanging stuffs

My roommate has not arrived yet so his bed is occupied

My bed (1/3 of the size of my bed in Cambodia)

Me and my Indian friends

Manchester Hall (the taller building) is my dorm

Me and Roger with the Cambodian shirt

August 16th, and now I am moving to ISU for the very first time. I have met many nice people and some not-so-nice people. The day is exclusively for international students coming to check in. I was like wishing there was another Cambodian student in and I will be thankful to god. Hell no! No single Cambodian in ISU. I think most international students are from China, India and Korea. Chinese people.... OMG... There are just SO many of them. They were like speaking Chinese every single minutes. I wonder if they want to speak Chinese why not just study in China. It is America, and people come here to improve English. Whatever, I think I might speak Khmer too if there were Cambodian people here.
On the very first day I have met so many nice people. Firstly, I met Shi Ee, a Global Ugrader from Malaysia, and I think we are pretty close just on the first day. I met Sheena, Sarita and Washes from India. They were very friendly. Sarita assisted me in opening a bank account. Well.... at least she got 10$ if she brings a customer to the bank though. I made friends with many other freindly people too.
After that we went to Walmart to purchase things for our room. Thank god! I brought almost everything from Cambodia so that I don't have to waste my money buying those things again.

The thing I hate the most on my first day is unpacking my luggages. There are so many stuff to be organized. My room was SO mess up.
Alright at least I am done by 1 pm.
My roommate hasn't moved in yet, so I have no idea how he looks like.
I do hate the bed. Its size is like 1/3 of my bed size in Cambodia. It suxs ....
Tomorrow is my orientation day and I will take photos with all my friends. (I forgot to bring camera when we hanged out)

Monday, August 16, 2010

My first day

Walking on the bridge taking some view

Good place to walk and do exercise


Leah and Roger's sweet home

My sweet room at host family's house not my dorm

Finally, I arrived the small town of Normal, Illinois. I was warmly welcomed by Roger and Leah, my host family. My room was pretty sweet. We talked, and they asked me a lot about Cambodia. I was able to answer all the questions except for geography thing.
After lunch, Roger and Leah took me out to do some shopping. We went to Bestbuy, Walmart and Meijer. After that, we took a tour drive around Illinois State University campus to familiarize me of the location.
We went to eat out at a Chinese Restaurant, and amazingly I was the only one who can use chopsticks. I have never known that it is such a hard task for western people to use chopsticks.
Now we got home, and I came out to walk with Roger around the town. It is so green everywhere, and we walked like 1 Km before coming back. Pretty exhausted but fun.
Ok that's it! I am moving to school in next 4 hours so I'm sure many things to do.


Atlanta in Georgia, got stuck for another 9 hours sleepingover

Sovannaphumi Airport

My first flight to America was one of the most disastrous moments I have ever had in my life.

It was 6 pm August 13th, 2010, and I was at home preparing to leave for the airport. Many of my friends were coming wanting to see me off at the airport. The damn pouring rain stopped their will and kindness. It was bloody flooding everywhere in the city. It was like we were living in the floating village. After that, I decided to come with my family leaving them at my home due to difficulty in transportation. It was sad, wasn’t it? At the airport, departure time was close, and therefore I needed to leave without a proper goodbye to my family. Well, at least they didn’t have time to be sad as I did on the way.

My first flight was from Phnom Penh International Airport to BKK (20:25 to 21:30). Over there, I walked, ate, and did some mighty sleep (afraid I might wake up late because I have no alarm clock with me). It was extremely boring transiting for like 8 hours. I was also nervous about my next flight since it is my first time flying alone. As a result, I swallowed my pride and began talking to an American man. He was very kind and helpful. I spent another 6h35min for my flight from BKK to TOKYO (5:40 to 14:15) [Tokyo is 2 hours later than BKK]. My next flight was in 50 mins. That man assisted me till I boarded. He taught me a lesson. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People will help you if they can,” he said. Well, I guess it doesn’t always true because I also meet some mean people here, especially black people. I am not racist or whatever, but this is what I have met.

Then it came my flight to America. It took 12h 54min to fly from Tokyo to New York (15:10 to 15:04). I was quite nervous since I have another flight in 1h20min. I heard that the custom check was very time consuming and hence I may miss my flight. The plane landed in New York 15min earlier, and I was very thankful. Nevertheless, I didn’t know what the hell they were doing. They didn’t let us leave the plane for like 1 hour, so I was pretty sure that I am going to miss my next flight. Meanwhile, my nose started bleeding. That’s crazy. After leaving the plane I went to take my luggage. I wondered where the custom check was. I thought I hadn’t been to custom check yet, but in fact I did and it was pretty easy. My next flight from New York to Atlanta was delayed due to weather. I was supposed to leave at 16:35 but it was changed to 19 or 20 something minutes. I was a bit dizzy because of jet lag I presume. People there were saying like “FUCK, SHIT, DAMN, ASSHOLE” to the flight attendance when they apology for the delay. This is the first thing I have ever seen. Cursing the attendant is weird and is also an experience I never ever see. I guess this is the most enjoyable flight I have. You know why? I was sitting next to a guy named Mark. He was born in America and originated from the Philippine. He was very kind and hot of course. He gave me the contact and told me I should call him out when I visit New York. That was wicked.

Here it comes another crazy part. My flight to Bloomington was gone, and so I have to catch another flight on August 15th, 2010 at 8:24 am. Damn! I have to wait another 8 hours in the airport. It was scary. Seeing those black people I dare not to talk to them. They are just too mean. And to kill my time, I am writing this hoping you guys enjoy it.

Sorry I don’t have any good or exciting photos to share because I was so dizzy.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centre

As a documentary filmmaker in the 1990s, Rithy Panh realised the utter lack of audiovisual resources in Cambodia and decided to start an organisation to collect as much of the Kingdom’s audiovisual heritage as possible.

Rithy Panh’s dream of gathering the resources convinced Ieu Pannakar, who was the head of the Department of Cinema within the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts at that time, to jump on board. The two men established the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center in December 2006 with the support of the Ministry of Culture and many other institutions.

“Bophana was the name of a young woman detained in S-21 during the Pol Pot Regime,” said Chum Noi, public relations officer for Bophana.
“The centre was given the name Bophana to bear witness to the dignity and courage of this woman.”

Aiming to preserve and present the remaining pictures, movies and songs from the last 150 years of Cambodia’s history, Bophana has around 30 staff members who have helped collect and protect more than 2,000 documents produced by Cambodians and foreigners.

The centre improves the quality of the documents, digitizes them and adds them to its expansive computer database, which is growing bigger by the week.

The overriding purpose of the collection is to provide free access to Cambodians and foreigners who wish to explore the audiovisual memory of Cambodia and learn more about the country’s past glory and terror.

“All the documents can be viewed freely in three main languages: Khmer, English and French. Therefore, people can search for their desired document easily,” said Sim Sok Thida, a research analyst at the Center.

“Bophana has been working collaboratively with other audiovisual archive centers in America, Europe and Asia to gather the remaining Cambodian documents from those countries and get authorization from the owners to present and provide people access to those files,” said Gaetan Crespel, the archive manager at Bophana Center.

He added that the center has also been cooperating with the Cambodian Film Commission in training Cambodian people in film and audio-related technical work to ensure that they are capable of taking care of documents, as well as improving their own ability to produce photos, film and audio files that will ensure that people do not forget what is happening today.

“I often visit the center when I am free from my studies since I can find so many important documents that aren’t available anywhere else,” said Nem Lorn, a student from Human Resource University.

“I can gain priceless knowledge, especially in art, civilization and history. I hope more Cambodian youth spend time here to explore their past.

“I am sure that the center is going to be here for the next 10 or 20 years to serve the public,” said Crespel.

“We still have many more archives that haven’t been digitized and shown to the public yet.”
By Mesa Lang