[Original by Mariko OMURA, Cambodia Project (May 26, 2021); Translated by J. Tsuchiya/A. Taguchi]
Hello. This is Mariko Omura from Cambodia. Shortly after the lockdown was lifted on May 18 in Cambodia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan raised the level of infectious disease warning for Cambodia to LEVEL 3 (suspension of travel advisory). Indeed, the number of infected people in Cambodia has not decreased as fast as expected. But the country’s economy has been dependent on tourism, and I would love to see the town of Siem Reap be busy with many tourists again. What I can do now is to hope that this pandemic can soon be over and to take infection prevention measures by myself.
The first online tour
Up to now, JVC Cambodia has conducted study tours aimed at mutual learning beyond borders and regions. This country is relatively safe and easy to visit.
We were looking forward to the participants of the study tours being with the villagers, but it became impossible this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even so, we were eager to be connected with people. That is why we took on the challenge of conducting an online tour for the first time in February 2021.
In this online tour named “A trip to Cambodia: Invited by fragrant herbs,” the village women, who produce dry herbs, and Japanese participants met online! We sent organic herb tea to the Japanese participants beforehand, so they can communicate with the producers while enjoying the tea.
The internet connection was very unstable in the village, and we didn’t know until the last moment whether the internet would be successfully connected or not. It was indeed a very thrilling experience! We also had to prepare fallback video pictures beforehand, which would not be necessary in the case of a face-to-face tour. Finally, the day arrived, and we were fraught with tension.
The village women who produce herbs were the hosts of this online tour. While cutting and processing raw materials, they answered questions from the Japanese participants and vice versa.
Taking this opportunity, we also arranged an online visit to the village market.
While writing this blog now, I clearly remember the online tour… That was really fun… Both the online tour and the face-to-face tour have their good points and I love them both. I would like to privately continue having mutual learning opportunities like this even after the activities of JVC Cambodia have finished.
It is difficult to travel abroad these days. However, we have online tools which allow us to courageously connect beyond borders and regions.
(Honestly, I hope that the COVID-19 pandemic will be over soon, so we can travel again.)
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