In Cambodia

In Cambodia are  the temples of Angkor Wat, the white sand beaches of Sihanoukville, and the Silver Pagoda of Phnom Penh. In Cambodia are also human trafficking, groundwater that isn’t safe to step in, and the Killing Fields–where the clothes of thousands of victims are still working their way up to the surface of the ground.

This January, 24 Calvin students are headed to Cambodia, along with engineering professor Leonard de Rooy, biology professor David Dornbos and Leonard’s uncle, Brian Maan. Also along for the ride are Calvin senior Bethany Woelk, the trip videographer, and me. We’re coming along to tell the story.

The only thing I knew about Cambodia prior to this trip was Angkor Wat, the ancient remnants of the Khmer civilization. Since then, I’ve learned, along with the students, about the Khmer Rouge, agrarian revolutionaries who wiped out one-third of the Cambodian population: their own people. The generations that have come after have struggled to re-establish educational systems, government, businesses, leadership–a whole culture.

We’re going to experience the good and the bad of this country, the splendid and the horrible. We’re also going to see evidence  of Calvin’s growing partnerships in Cambodia: at the kindergartens and primary school founded by the New International Builder’s Community, (Leonard de Rooy is an NIBC board member.) and at Eden Farm, a farmer’s training school where David Dornbos hopes to do research.

We will meet Calvin’s partners from Cambodia and from South Korea, and we’ll meet students from those countries who are working to re-build the Cambodian infrastructure.

The Calvin students will be working the farm, surveying, setting up irrigation projects, shopping for silk shirts, visiting the floating city and showering with their mouths tightly closed. We will stay in hotels. We will sleep outside in hammocks. We will see Angkor Wat. We will see the Killing Fields. Some of us may eat the fried tarantulas.

Bethany will be capturing the images (she’s also a photographer), and I’ll be trying to put it all in words. Right now, I feel totally inadequate to the task. That’s how I know God is working.

I hope you’ll follow along.



2 comments so far

  1. Claudia Beversluis on

    Blessings to you all – here in ithe provost’s office we are eager to follow along with you and the entire class as you learn and travel – and work, eat, and sleep, and meet so many people. God be with you all!

  2. Tommy Heyboer on


    You will find the words. Of that, I am sure.


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