Seeing beyond the tourist’s view of Cambodia

Seeing beyond the tourist’s view of Cambodia


Brad Cutts is in the final year of his Master of Business Administration (MBA) with CSU. With only two subjects left to complete, Brad wanted an international experience so he joined a tour of Cambodia led by Warwick Baines from CSU’s Faculty of Business, Justice and Behavioural Sciences.

During the tour in June, participants met with commercial and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in regional Cambodia, and with businesses involved in the food and beverage, retail, real estate, finance and accommodation sectors.

This is Brad’s story.

What first attracted me to this subject and opportunity was the story of a previous participant and I thought it would be good to apply my studies to the real world and have an adventure that I would never have planned myself.

Cambodia is an amazing country, full of culture, history, tragedy and opportunity. For me, this tour highlighted the need to understand the context in which business has to work in order to succeed.

We visited a variety of NGOs, businesses, memorials, temples and villages across different parts of Cambodia in an attempt to better understand the history, culture, opportunities, challenges and people of this developing country.

Meeting 15 fellow CSU students and staff for the first time before setting off to a developing country was challenging at first, but our collective experience helped to form new relationships and our team bonded very quickly. It was all part of the learning experience.

For me, the recent history of Cambodia posed some of the best and worst that the country had to offer. Seeing the S-21 Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh and the so-called ‘Killing Fields’ outside the capital was very confronting

It was really interesting that Cambodian NGOs such as Phare Ponleu Selpak sought to address their past through the Phare Circus performance of ‘Sokha’, which told the story of a child’s struggles during the Khmer Rouge rule. The circus is part of a school run by the NGO that trains and supports children in the arts.

Another highlight was when Warwick asked two people to share their reflection on daily life in Cambodia, which prompted me to think further about life and economic development here and sparked lively discussion within our group.

“During the tour, I developed a strong friendship and bond with other older and younger participants in a short time due to the intense experience we shared.

The hardest part in deciding to be part of an educational tour such as this is being bold enough to say ‘yes’.  The tour is well organised and you meet a bunch of great people.

To experience Cambodia through the eyes of its people, history, culture, villages, NGOs and business is a rare privilege that you are unlikely to be able to achieve as a tourist.

You really ‘experience’ your learning and apply previous learning to understand current issues facing Cambodia.  You can also really appreciate our great country for the freedoms and opportunities that Australia provides that we sometimes take for granted.

Note: This program was partially funded by the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan and Asia Bound through the Federal Department of Education, and organised with assistance from CSU Global.

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