ទស្សនវិជ្ជានៃការអប់រំខាងផ្លូវចិត្ត

ថ្ងៃមួយនៅជំរំ មានលោកគ្រូពេទ្យម្នាក់ឈ្មោះ Mengele បានសុំឱ្យយុវនារី Edith រាំរបាំបាល់ឡេសម្រាប់គាត់ហើយនាងឡើងរាំជូនគាត់ទោះបីនាងដឹងថាលោកគ្រូពេទ្យទើប នឹងបញ្ជាឱ្យគេយកម្តាយរបស់នាងទៅសម្លាប់និងដុតចោលក៏ដោយ។

ខ្ញុំបានអានសៀវភៅមានចំណងជើងថា «មានជម្រើស» ឬ “The Choice”ហើយត្រូវបាននិពន្ធឡើងដោយលោកស្រី Edith Eger ជនជាតិហុងគ្រីម្នាក់កាន់សាសនាជ្វីវ ដែលបានរួចខ្លួនពីសេចក្តីស្លាប់នៅជំរំ Auchwitz នាសម័យសង្រ្គាមលោកលើកទីពីរ។ លោកស្រីបានលាក់ទុករឿងរ៉ាវអាក្រក់ទាំងនោះនៅក្នុងចិត្ត  អស់រយៈពេលជាច្រើនឆ្នាំ។ យូរឆ្នាំក្រោយមកគាត់ក៏បានសម្រេចចិត្តនិយាយពីបទពិសោធន៍ផ្ទាល់ខ្លួនរបស់គាត់​​ ហើយបានចង់ក្រងជាសៀវភៅមួយក្បាលដែលទើបនឹងបោះពុម្ពនាឆ្នាំ២០១៧ថ្មីៗនេះ។

ថ្ងៃមួយនៅជំរំ មានលោកគ្រូពេទ្យម្នាក់ឈ្មោះ Mengele បានសុំឱ្យយុវនារី Edith រាំរបាំបាល់ឡេសម្រាប់គាត់ហើយនាងឡើងរាំជូនគាត់ទោះបីនាងដឹងថាលោកគ្រូពេទ្យទើប នឹងបញ្ជាឱ្យគេយកម្តាយរបស់នាងទៅសម្លាប់និងដុតចោលក៏ដោយ។ បន្ទាប់ពីសង្រ្គាម លោកលើកទីពីរត្រូវបានបញ្ចប់​ លោកស្រីបានប្រើពេលវេលាយ៉ាងយូរមុននឹកឃើញថា           វិធីសាស្រ្តផ្សេងៗដែលគាត់ធ្លាប់ប្រើក្នុងជំរំ ដើម្បីការពារខ្លួន លែងមានប្រសិទ្ធភាព ការពារគាត់នឹងកូនរបស់គាត់ពីស្រមោលនៃអំពើឃោរឃៅអតីតកាល។ ជូនកាល ការស្តាប់ សម្លេងកញ្ចែឬសូរស្បែកជើងទាហាន ឬធំក្លិនរទេសភ្លើង ធ្វើឱ្យលោកស្រីភ័យខ្លាច ញ័រដៃញ័រជើងរន្ធត់ចិត្ត បាត់បង់ស្មារតីទាំងស្រុងនាំឱ្យកូនគាតភ័យដែរ។

លោកស្រី Egerរៀបរាប់អំពីជីវិតមិនស្រួលនៅប្រទេសហុងគ្រីក្រោមរបបកុម្មុយនិស្ត បន្ទាប់ពីការរំដោះដោយទាហានរុស្ស៊ី។ គាត់ពន្យល់អំពីការសម្រេចចិត្ត ភៀសខ្លួន ទៅប្រទេសអាមេរិចជាមួយប្តី។​ លោកស្រីបានចូលធ្វើការជាកម្មការណីនៅរោងចក្រដូច ជនអន្តោប្រវេសន៍ឯទៀតៗនៅសម័យនោះ។ ក្រោយមកលោកស្រីបានចូលរៀនអំពីចិត្តវិទ្យា នាពេលយប់។ គាត់បានអានសៀវភៅរបស់មនុស្សម្នាក់ ដែលធ្លាប់ឆ្លងកាត់ការរស់នៅក្នុងជំរំ ដ៏សាហាវដូចគាត់។​  សៀវភៅមានចំណងជើងថា “Man’s Search for Meaning” និពន្ធដោយលោក Victor Frankl  ។ សៀវភៅនោះបានជំរុញគាត់ឱ្យរិះគិតកាន់តែស៊ីជម្រៅអំពីអត្ថន័យ នៃបទពិសោធន៍ក្នុងដំណើរជីវិតរបស់គាត់។

បន្ទាប់ពីរៀនចប់ លោក​ស្រីចាប់ផ្ដើមព្យាបាលមនុស្សដែលមានវិបត្តិធ្ងន់ធ្ងរខាងផ្លូវចិត្ត។ គាត់មានរបៀបថែទាំនិងថ្នាក់ថ្នមផ្ទាល់ខ្លួនចំពោះអតីតទាហានមួយចំនួន ដែលគ្រូពេទ្យធម្មតាព្យាបាលពុំកើត។​ ដំបូងឡើយ លោកស្រីអញ្ជើញអ្នកជំងឺរៀបរាប់ អំពីបទពិសោធន៍នៃហឹង្សារបស់ខ្លួនដោយពុំមានភាពអៀនខ្មាស់ ដើម្បីឱ្យពួកគេយល់ អំពីដំណើរនៃជីវិត។ បន្ទាប់មក លោកស្រីរិះគិតពិចារណាអំពីពាក្យពេច ទាំងប៉ុន្មានដែលអ្នកជំងឺបាននិយាយប្រាប់ ព្រមទាំងពិនិត្យមើលចលនាខាងផ្លូវចិត្តរបស់ខ្លួន ដើម្បីជៀសវាងការវិនិច្ឆ័យនិងបកស្រាយខុស  ឆ្គង។ លោកស្រីអះអាងថាយើងត្រូវទទួលស្គាល់ថា​ «ទាំងអារម្មណ៍ ឬមនោសញ្ចេតនា ទាំងរបៀបគិតគូពីកុមារភាព» កំពុងជះឥទ្ធិពលនិង គ្រប់គ្រងលើឥរីយាបទនិងសកម្មភាពប្រចាំថ្ងៃរបស់យើងដោយមិនដឹងខ្លួន។  ការនិយាយគ្នាដើម្បីចែករំលែកពីអារម្មណ៍និងការវិភាគបែបនេះអាចនាំឱ្យកើតឡើងនូវគំហឹងឬបំណងចង់សង់សឹកបាន​ ប៉ុន្តែនៅពេលដែលអ្នកជំងឺទុកចិត្តលើអ្នកព្យាបាល នោះការចែកបទពិសោធន៍រវាងមនុស្សពីរនាក់ អាចនាំឱ្យអ្នកជំងឺនឹកឃើញពីភាពអាណិតអាសូរ និងសេចក្ដីស្រឡាញ់ចំពោះអ្នកដទៃ ហើយឈានទៅដល់ការលើកលែងទោសឱ្យមនុស្សដែលធ្លាប់ធ្វើអាក្រក់មកលើគេ។ តាមមធ្យោបាយនេះ ទាំងអ្នកជំងឺ​ផង ទាំងគ្រូពេទ្យផង អាចទទួលការព្យាបាលរហូតទាល់តែជាសះស្បើយពីរបួសខាងផ្លូវចិត្ត ។

មានសំណួរមួយដែលត្រូវសួរខ្លួនឯងថា «តើខ្ញុំចង់បានអ្វីមួយអោយពិតប្រាកដ?»។ ដើម្បីឆ្លើយតបនឹងសំណួរនេះឱ្យបានច្បាស់លាស់ ទាល់តែខ្ញុំរិះគិតលើមនោសញ្ចេតនាច្របូកច្របល់នៅខាងក្នុងដើម្បីឱ្យអារម្មណ៍ស្ងប់សិន ទើបខ្ញុំអាចសង្កេតមើលបំណងប្រាថ្នាចម្បងរបស់ខ្ញុំបាន។ បន្ទាប់ពីឆ្លើយសំណួរចម្បងនេះហើយ សំណួរបន្តទៀតចេញមកដោយងាយ។ «តើសកម្មភាពរបស់ខ្ញុំសព្វថ្ងៃ កំពុងជួយខ្ញុំឱ្យសម្រេចនូវបំណងប្រាថ្នាចម្បងឬយ៉ាងណា?» តាមលោកស្រី Eger ជាធម្មតាយើងត្រូវឆ្លើយខ្លួនឯងថា «មិនមែនទេ»។ មកដល់កម្រិតនេះ ច្បាស់ថាយើងត្រូវផ្លាស់ប្តូរឥរិយាបថប្រចាំរបស់យើងហើយត្រូវលះបង់សកម្មភាពអត់ប្រយោជន៍ចោល។  រឿងនេះជាមូលហេតុដែលលោកស្រីហៅសៀវភៅរបស់គាត់ថា «មានជម្រើស»។  ជម្រើសនេះគឺមានតែរូបខ្ញុំផ្ទាល់ទេដែលអាចសម្រេចបាន ហើយខ្ញុំនៅតែមានសមត្ថភាពធ្វើ។ គ្មានអ្នកណាផ្សេងទៀតអាចជំនួសខ្ញុំបានឡើយ។

ជំពូកដែលគួររំភើពចិត្តជាទីបំផុតនោះគឺ ចំពេលដែលលោកស្រីធ្វើដំណើរត្រឡប់ទៅជំរំដ៏សាហាវ Auchwitz ម្តងទៀត។ បងស្រីបង្កើតរបស់គាត់មិនព្រមទៅជាមួយឡើយ។ មកដល់អតីតជំរំហើយ លោកស្រីបានរំលឹករឿងអាក្រក់ទាំងអស់ដែលបានកើតឡើងចំពោះគាត់។ លោកស្រីពន្យល់អំពីចម្លើយខុសឆ្គងរបស់គាត់មួយ​ ក្នុងពេលដែលលោកគ្រូពេទ្យដ៏សាហាវម្នាក់សួរគាត់ថា «តើស្រ្តីម្នាក់នេះជា ម្តាយឬជាបងស្រី?»​​។ សម័យនោះលោកស្រីអាយុតែ១៥ ឆ្នាំ គាត់បានឆ្លើយថា «ជាម្តាយ»។ ដូច្នេះហើយគ្រូពេទ្យបញ្ជាអោយទាហានអាឡឺមង់យកម្តាយលោកស្រីទៅសម្លាប់ចោលភ្លាម ដោយចាត់ទុកថាគាត់ជាមនុស្សចាស់មិនអាចធ្វើការធ្ងន់បានឡើយ។ លោកស្រីត្រូវសុំទោសម្តាយដោយបានឆ្លើយសំណួរខុស។

មានបងប្អូនខ្មែរច្រើននាក់ដែលបានចែករំលែកពីបទពិសោធន៍របស់ពួកគេនាសម័យខ្មែរក្រហម ដោយបានប្រាប់អំពីសមាជិកក្រុមគ្រួសាររបស់ខ្លួនដែលត្រូវបានគេវាយប្រហារជីវិតឬស្លាប់ដោយសារអត់អាហារ ក៏ប៉ុន្តែ​កម្រមានមនុស្សទទួលសារភាពថា «ខ្ញុំសោកស្តាយទង្វើផ្ទាល់ខ្លួនដែលខ្ញុំធ្លាប់ប្រព្រឹត្តនាសម័យខ្មែរក្រហមនៅឡើយទេ»។ អ្នកគូរគំនូរខ្មែរឈ្មោះ វ៉ាន់ណាត់ ធ្លាប់ណែនាំការិះគិតពិចារណាឡើងវិញចំពោះអំពើទាំងប៉ុន្មានដែលបានកើតឡើងនៅពន្ធនាគារទួលស្លែងរបស់ខ្មែរក្រហម ហៅថា S21 តាមឯកសារទូរទស្សន៍។ ចំពោះមុខឆ្មាំចាស់របស់គាត់ ពួកគេពិតជាពិបាកទទួលស្គាល់អំពើអាក្រក់ឃោរឃៅដែលពួកគេធ្លាប់ប្រព្រឹតទៅលើបងប្អូនខ្មែរសុចតិតទៀងត្រង់ ទោះបីលោកវ៉ាន់ណាត់សួរសំណួរដោយរបៀបទន់ផ្លន់ស្លូតបូតយ៉ាងណាក៏ដោយ។ ពួកឆ្មាំតែងតែចាត់ទុកអ្នកជាប់ឃុំឃាំងថា​ជា «ខ្មាំង» មិនមែនជាមនុស្សស្មើនឹងពួកគេទេ។

vann nath

ចំណុចខ្លាំងក្នុងសៀវភៅរបស់លោកស្រី Eger គឺជាការអំពាវនាវដល់យើងម្នាក់ៗឱ្យទទួលខុសត្រូវចំពោះរាល់ការសម្រេចចិត្តរបស់យើងនៅក្នុងឆាកជីវិត កុំឱ្យយើងផ្ទេរការទទួលខុសត្រូវនេះដល់អ្នកផ្សេង។ រាល់ព្រឹកយើងមានឳកាសដើម្បីជ្រើសរើសការរីកចម្រើនជាមនុស្សដោយសម្តែងសេចក្តីស្រឡាញ់ តែបើយើងជ្រើសរើសយកការបដិសេធមិនព្រមបង្ហាញសេចក្តីស្រឡាញនោះ យើងនឹងប្រែពីសភាពជាមនុស្ស វិលត្រឡប់ទៅរកសភាពជាសត្វវិញ។

 

The Choice

It turns out that all the positive thinking tricks that Edith Eger used to survive in the camp with her sister Magda are not so helpful later on as she tries to cope with the after effects of trauma and prevent it from harming her children.

This Christmas, I received the gift of a book which I will count as a priceless treasure.  It broaches the issue of psychological trauma head on and comes out on the other side with a human way of processing things.  The book is called “The Choice” and it was authored by Edith Eger, a Hungarian Jewess, who survived Auchwitz (just about) and took a long time to tell her story.  Her book was only published in 2017.

 

When I arrived into the Cambodian refugee camps in Thailand during 1986, the malevolent presence of the Khmer Rouge was still tangible.  Fear and insecurity crippled people’s thinking processes.  I remember listening to stories where a family member routinely described the death and disappearance of other family members in a passionless, robotic manner which prevented any real sharing in sadness or grief.

People were still surviving as isolated monads and were only slowly readjusting from horrific trauma to relative peace.

Over the past few years, I have read many books which have broached these issues in various ways.  Among those which have lingered in the memory longest are “The Book Thief” by Marcus Zuzak and “In the Shadow of the Banyan” by Vaddey Ratner.

What really impressed me about Edith Eger’s life-story in “The Choice” was its rigorous honesty in self-examination.  I found a resonance similar to testimonies of people who have recovered from long-term debilitating addictions or violent abuse of different types.  There is no hint of false romanticism on these pages.

Once the young Edith is asked by Dr. Mengele to perform a ballet dance for him which she does even though she knows that it was he who had ordered the killing of her mother.     Eger describes how the malevolent power of evil infiltrated the lives of the innocent in Auchwitz and somehow managed to remain buried in painful memories inside her mind that were never aired or shared.  Later panic attacks would occur in response to sounds or sights like sirens or train carriages etc.

Eger also describes life in Communist Hungary after “liberation”.  She explains her dramatic and brave decision to emigrate to America with nothing, rather than to Israel where the family wealth had already been sent.  Her husband Bela followed her.  She works in manual labour for a few years like so many other immigrants.  Slowly she finds her way to study and eventually to Psychiatry.  Victor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning” played a role in her spiritual journey.

However it is clear in her personal care for the individual “troubled” patients, that she finds her own way.  Firstly, she helps these individuals to understand themselves more deeply.  Then, secondly, she comes to understand herself more deeply by thinking about what they said.  She argues that we need to recognize how both “feelings” and “thinking” are influencing or controlling our behavior patterns.   This process of sharing and analysis can itself be traumatic as the feelings can be explosive or dangerous.  However only by a patient sharing and re-sharing of these feelings in a human relationship can we rediscover wholeness in our wounded humanity.

The thinking patterns also need to be analysed and examined.  It is interesting to note that the most important question to be answered deep down is “What do I really want”.  Once I have crossed the stormy sea of tumultuous feelings and so can see clearly what I really want and am striving for, the next question falls into place easily.  Are my present behavior patterns helping or hindering my journey towards what I want or not?  In most cases the answer is no. So change is required.  Hence “The Choice”.   It is mine to make and I have the power to make it.  No one else can make it for me.  While her perspective is medical and scientific, a remote faith perspective remains.  At one point Dr. Eger will say, “I do not just receive patients.  I feel that they are sent to me”.  When all else fails, she will pray.

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One of the most moving passages in the book is where the  mature Dr. Edith Eger returns to Auschwitz for a visit and remembers everything.  Here she describes her own actions and her own innocent mistake which resulted in the death of her mother.  Many Cambodians have shared with me their traumatic experiences during the Khmer Rouge time and how their family members died or were killed. Yet, I have not heard someone say “I really regret what I did during the Khmer Rouge time”.

The Khmer artist, Vann Nath, led a deep reflection on the evil of the Khmer Rouge in a documentary on the notorious S21 Tuol Slaeng prison.   It was hard for his former guards to take responsibility for their actions even under his gentle questioning.

The real strength of Dr. Eger’s book is that it invites to take a radical personal responsibility for our choices in life.  Each new day offer us a choice to grow up or to grow down.

Social Anxiety and Shyness

It is clear that many Cambodian young people experience high levels of stress. Many are fearful and will not speak in public. It is at least possible that respect for authority has been so strongly internalized by them that it has become a paralysis, preventing the young people from acting creatively and freely in society.

A friend of mine recommended a book by Gillian Butler entitled “Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness”.  I finished it this morning.  It was a good read.

It seems that there are many people who suffer silently from a paralyzing fear of certain type of social events (yours truly included) and the book accurately describes the thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns of those caught in the cycle of these types of fear.  In a simple but clear manner the author lays out a few simple clear self-help strategies to encourage people first to face and then to overcome these paralyzing fears.

The first strategy is to reduce self-consciousness by steering one’s attention away from the inner emotional turmoil to the actual context in which one is actually experiencing paralysis.  The second strategy is to alter the “automatic” thinking processes triggered by the event, especially the negative ones.  The third strategy is to try to do things a little differently by not engaging in “avoidance” behaviours.  These strategies will eventually encourage a growth in confidence in one’s ability to “weather the storms”.    The book develops each of these strategies in considerable detail.   Each strategy is accompanied by a work-sheet so that one can work through the steps in a methodical manner. Continue reading “Social Anxiety and Shyness”

Kung Raiya, Hong Kong, the Church and Hannah Arendt

The coastal town of Sihanoukville has become a beach and gambling resort for Chinese tourists from the mainland. Many newly constructed buildings are already falling down, uncollected rubbish is piled high in the streets and the town floods because of blocked drains. Chinese workers are everywhere. The Government is allowing massive unsupervised Chinese investment in Cambodia. There is talk of a Chinese naval base at Ream.

The works of Hannah Arendt, the political theorist and philosopher, have furnished insights into  the political situation in Cambodia,  the Catholic Church and  Hong Kong which I will attempt to explain in this blog.   A recent court case in Phnom Penh reveals the truth about the political situation here.  The insights of Hannah Arendt could help to illuminate the issues around this case.  Perhaps her work can also be applied to the political situation of the Catholic Church, of Hong Kong and of Cambodia.

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Kem Ley Commemoration

Here in Cambodia on the 13th of August last, the Court of Appeal refused the bail applications of Mr. Kung Raiya and Mr. Suong Neakpaon.  The two were arrested in July for commemorating the anniversary of the political assassination of Mr. Kem Ley, a peaceful social analyst, on the 10th of July 2016.   Apparently, the former distributed tee-shirts with an image of Kem Ley on them and the latter distributed leaflets at the site of the murder.  Mr. Kem Ley had been shot in broad daylight at a Caltex garage shortly after penning an article outlining the amount of wealth and property amassed by the Prime Minister and his family over the last few years. Continue reading “Kung Raiya, Hong Kong, the Church and Hannah Arendt”

In the Shadow of the Banyan

Both the accounts of the Khmer family life in the city and cruel deportation to a beautiful countryside ring true. Raami’s father has communicated a love for Khmer legends and poems which then serve as the structure of meaning for Raami, while she tries to fathom what is happening to her and her family.

 

Ten days ago, our Battambang Book Club reflected on the novel “In the Shadow of the Banyan” by Vaddey Ratner.  We had an interesting and fruitful discussion on this Khmer novel in English about the tragedy that occurred in Cambodia once the Khmer Rouge took over Phnom Penh in April 1975.

vaddey

In a curious twist of fate, we realized that this novel is not well known in Cambodia but is appreciated more for its literary quality abroad.  For example, the novel is not available in a cheap version at the Russian market in Phnom Penh unlike most other significant books on Cambodian history.

Perhaps the genre of historical fiction is not considered as reliable as autobiographical accounts in re-discovering historical truth.  This issue has come up also in my blogs on “The Memory Stones” and on “Milkman”.  In the “Shadow of the Banyan” is nonetheless a wonderful work of art for a number of reasons.

Continue reading “In the Shadow of the Banyan”

Kung Raiya, the silly twit!

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged activist Kung Raiya with incitement to commit a felony today for printing T-shirts with murdered political analyst Kem Ley’s image and words.

On the 11th of July, I read a ridiculous story from Cambodia.  I have decided to simply let it speak for itself.   The background is that on the 10th of July 2016, a Khmer social activist, Mr. Kim Ley, was shot dead in broad daylight at a Caltex petrol station in Phnom Penh.  The CCTV footage was handed over to the police but has never been been leaked to the media since. So there is not a shred of evidence to support people’s suspicions. Continue reading “Kung Raiya, the silly twit!”

Education in the Age of Fake News & Artificial Intelligence

Educational Frontiers Conference 2018

The conference on Educational Frontiers at the Ateneo De Manila University from 3rd– 6th of October 2018 opened with a presentation of scientific research on The Truth about Youth by Gino Borromeo. While this presentation outlined the significant characteristics of the millennial generation who are media-savvy and ecologically concerned, it failed to draw attention to crisis parameters such as the high level of obesity among modern youth while noting clearly their lack of political engagement.  The epidemic of obesity is surely a manifestation of a deeper relational disorder in families than those we have witnessed in previous generations. This conference on the first day was followed by three break-out sessions, or workshops.

Manila Conference 3
Gino Borromeo

A workshop from the Sanata Dharma University in Indonesia showed how both Muslim and Christian students can follow a common course when the topics are sensitively chosen.  In this way, they can learn about the other traditions and appreciate the goal of religious harmony in society. In the afternoon, the Institute of Catholic Leadership from San Francisco University led a reflection on how to serve the marginalised children in disadvantaged parts of the globe by supporting the education of their teachers.  Another workshop showed how drama can be used to encourage positive discipline with students who are troubled.

Intercultural Education 

The second day began with a conference on Intercultural Education by Dr Christine Halse from the University of Hong Kong. It was interesting to notice that research backs up the observations that children who learn in an intercultural setting do better academically and relationaly than children who learn in a single cultural setting. However the question and answer session indicated that this intercultural approach has difficulty integrating former majority groups who feel oppressed or victimised. In particular, real challenges are being experienced in engaging with traditionalist or conservative communities.

Laudato Si’ and Communal Discernment

I attended the workshop “Learning and Teaching Laudato Si in a Cultural Context”.  It outlined how all our other educational challenges have now been subsumed under this primary ecological concern. We will either collaborate to reduce global warming or we will leave a desolate world to the next generation. As the presenter from Timor Leste had become ill before departure at the airport, I was asked to replace him by giving a presentation Communal Discernment and the Xavier Jesuit Education Project in Cambodia.

Reflective Pedagogy and Personal Style 

Two of the workshops that I attended on the third day will stay with me for a long time. The first was on coaching of new teachers on the job in Reflective Pedagogy (Ignatian Pedagogy). The fascinating and innovative aspect of this workshop was that it showed how teachers with limited experience in the school can become helpful mentors to new teachers.  The model is still the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius where the vision, mission and goals of the school become the truth to be known and loved by the new teacher and the coach is the spiritual advisor who helps empower the new teacher to become the teacher that they are meant to be rather than a clone of some other teacher.  This happens not according to some preconceived standard of good teacher but in a spiritual process where the new teacher both appropriates the school culture and at the same time realises his or her own personal style and charism as a unique teacher who will be irreplaceable.

Mindfulness Practice in Schools

This workshop was followed by another interesting one on “Mindfulness”.  The person responsible for student discipline in the large Xavier School outside Manila explained how she had introduced mindfulness programmes into the school.  One reason she did this was her conviction that students with discipline problems were often not present to the situation so they did not realise how disruptive their behaviour actually was.  Another reason was that so many students and teachers complain of stress.  The invitation to all students to disconnect from every outside stimulus for three minutes silent time at several moments each day seems to have helped calm people down significantly.  The program is easy to prepare as it involves few words and peaceful music.  It works best if the teacher leads the programme in class.  Students are free not to participate but they must be quiet for the duration.  It is not religious so the program can be used for all students.

The Ignatian Paradigm in Student Formation 

On the final day of the conference, Fr Michael Garanzini expounded on the Frontiers in Jesuit Education. He underlined the centrality of the study of the Humanities for the development of practical wisdom and moral conscience. He highlighted the extent of the worldwide Jesuit network of schools, colleges and universities.  He lamented the lack of collaboration in responding to the challenges of the modern world.  However it was noted that graduates of these schools do not resemble each other nearly as much as do Jesuit novices from different countries. The graduate from Sogang University in Korea will be quite different from the graduate of the Ateneo De Manila in the Philippines, yet the Vietnamese Jesuit who has never traveled abroad will share a similar world view to the Jesuit from El Salvador even if neither has ever met anyone from their respective countries.

In this sense the formation of lay people following the Ignatian paradigm may not be as deep as the formation of religious people.  This issue was not addressed at the conference.  However it was also clear that despite all this common formation and understanding, and notwithstanding the huge progress made in collaboration with others in recent years, Jesuits who understand each other well still have difficulty in collaborating together on apostolic projects.  Fr Garanzini confirmed that this has always been and still remains a huge stumbling block to the effectiveness of Jesuit educational programs. It is somewhat painful to realise that the principle challenges to our apostolic effectiveness in education are not really external at all.  They are internal.  Our context in Cambodia is perhaps no exception to this general rule.

Spiritual Insights and the Catalyst for Educational Reform

Hence this conference served to confirm the key spiritual insights about emotional sobriety that I gained during my sabbatical last year in France and Ireland. These insights concern our current efforts to help transform the Cambodian education system.  These insights are somewhat controversial so I hesitate before sharing them. My next blog will be entitled “Catalyst for Education Reform in Cambodia”. In this future blog, I will share these concerns for further reflection and dialogue.

Education Reform in Cambodia

When I reflect on the contents of this interview dating from May 2013, in which I highlighted the challenges facing Cambodia’s higher education system and the younger generations, four recent developments jumped into focus. The rest of the original article is still historically accurate!

When I reflect on the contents of this interview dating from May 2013, in which I highlighted the challenges facing Cambodia’s higher education system and the younger generations, four recent developments jumped into focus. The rest of the original article is still historically accurate!

Continue reading “Education Reform in Cambodia”

Cambodia’s Dirty Dozen

Given the serious accusations of involvement in corruption, torture and extra-judicial killings by senior members of the Cambodian security in this Human Rights Watch report, is it not surprising that the Government reaction has been so muted? 

Human Rights Watch recently produced a detailed report on twelve senior generals of the Cambodian Army, Gendarmarie and Police forces.  They added the provocative title “Cambodia’s Dirty Dozen”.

Continue reading “Cambodia’s Dirty Dozen”