One of the great things about the CAP program is getting to travel before we arrive at our host country. There are students going on safari, traveling through Europe, and taking in some sights in Africa. Since I’ll be going to China, I decided my adventure of choice would be other Asian countries, specifically Cambodia and Thailand.
I’ve been lucky enough to travel through Asia before, but this time has been different. One year of business school has opened my eyes to details that I would never before notice. Here’s one of the best stories I have regarding that. When in Siem Reap, Cambodia, I went on a bike ride through the countryside with a tour company called Butterfly Tours. They have a very interesting mission statement:
“We are not an NGO, we are the local students’ business. We wish to guide the entrepreneurial of university students as they engage in their studies, and to inspire Cambodians to become confident employers rather than employees.”
My tour guide, Borat, is a native Cambodian and a student at a local university. He took us through some of the more rural areas of the Cambodian countryside where locals eat and shop, so there were definitely some interesting sites (see the picture). Borat is studying English, but he has yet to decide on a “focus”. Upon inquiring, he explained that universities have specific tracks for “literature English”, “tourist English”, and “religious English”, among others. Before this conversation, I had never considered English to be split into different tracks, but in a culture that is highly spiritual and also highly dependent on tourism, it makes perfect sense. This Cambodian university is encouraging students to learn the language in a way that would be most valuable for their education and their future employment.
Even though Cambodia is considered a third-world country, their universities and their younger population are clearly making strides to embrace the country’s appeal and advance its economy. Before business school, I would have just thought that was interesting; now, I see how it can revolutionize an economy. I feel so lucky that having some time before going to China for CAP has allowed me to travel and open my eyes to more practical elements of the global economy.