Fulbright Fellowship in Cambodia

Friday, August 16, 2013

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to travel to Cambodia on a six-week long Fulbright Fellowship.  My project was to teach an introductory photojournalism course at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, and in my free time I planned to travel and shoot as much as possible.

I had never taught before and was a bit nervous about the three hour long classes. My longest public speaking engagement up until then had been toasting my brother at his wedding, and going from that to keeping a class engaged for three hours was daunting indeed. But I got some great advice from friends and colleagues (in the nutshell: "Do NOT speak for three hours.  Come up with a bunch of in class activities and field trips.") and things went fine. My students were energetic and sweet, and the only rocky part of the whole process was my difficultly remembering and pronoucing their names.

On my long weekends, I ran around Phnom Penh and other parts of Cambodia with my camera.  It was odd how incredibly safe the country felt, considering its recent history of extreme violence and ongoing extreme poverty. I was also largely ignored while I was out shooting, in part I think because of the large ex-pat NGO community in the country (i.e. another tall white guy was not that interesting), and also because staring is considered rude in the Khmer culture. In other words, an extremely easy place to photograph. Of course, I wasn't shooting anything controversial like forced relocating by the government. That might have earned me a beating by the goon squad.  

Below, a few photo highlights from an unforgettable time in my life.

dennis drenner in cambodia teaching at the royal universitykep crab market

The famous crab market in Kep, Cambodia.


apsara dancers in training

Traditional Cambodian dancers in training.


cambodian wedding

A Cambodian village wedding.


dance practice

Young Cambodian dancers do finger stretches.


buddhist prayers

A temple on the Mekong River in Phnom Penh.


phnom penh karaoke

Karaoke night with my students.


dennis drenner with his students in cambodia

Group portrait after a field trip to Phnom Penh's Russian market.

Posted by Dennis on 08/16 at 09:55 PM