Cambodia, 2013-2014


JoAnn Burkhardt, Faculty, Education - During the 2012 McMaster Cambodia initiative, I interviewed school administrators, directors of NGOs and government officials in Cambodia pertaining to their understanding of autism and disability. Based on the data collected, it became apparent that the participants had an emerging understanding of autism. The participants all indicated that they had heard or read about autism but did not have knowledge or understanding of autism as a disability. The interview with government officials yielded interesting information pertaining to disability law in Cambodia. It was confirmed, during the interviews, that the law enacted in 2009 pertaining to individuals with disabilities, Law on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2009, had not been implemented, and that currently, it is projected that implementation will begin in 2015 (Mak, M. & Nordtveit, B.H., 2013). On August 10, 2012, Cambodia ratified the United Nations Convention on Persons with Disabilities. I will be traveling to Cambodia with McMaster Fellows and Scholars in May 2013 and will provide training to several NGOs and teachers pertaining to Intellectual Disabilities. In addition, I will provide training on goal setting and conducting a task analysis. The purpose of this proposed research project (2013-14) is to gather data from teachers and NGOs pertaining to their perspective of what they view as their training needs for meeting the needs of individual with disabilities. In other words, I will be asking the question "What do you need to learn in order to develop programming to serve individuals with disabilities and their families?"

Fred Coulter, Faculty, Education - The purpose of this project is to measure the impact of teacher training projects in Cambodia. In past trips, teacher training in-services were conducted by McMaster scholars in Phnom Penh, Battambang, Tekeo, and several rural school districts. The reason for conducting in-services for teachers is that the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport (MoEYS) does not have a systematic professional development program for teachers who are typically undertrained from the beginning of their teaching careers (Courtney, 2007). Scholar projects for the 2013-2014 Cambodian Learning Community will include teacher training in-services of educational concepts, such as child and youth development, pedagogy, and assessment. However, in the past, only informal evaluation of the trainings was conducted. This research project will provide formal results on the impact of trainings for teachers. By measuring the impact of the trainings, the first three goals of the McMaster School will be fulfilled.


Philip Balla, Senior, Ministry Studies and Psychology - The purpose of this project is to study the difference between theoretical and practical applications of Theravada Buddhism in Cambodia. This project will use qualitative data gathering techniques such as: interviews, picture-taking, and detailed observation making. It will also involve a substantial amount of research before going to Cambodia to form a base from which to form the interviews. The scholar will seek to learn from Buddhist monks, nuns, average Cambodians, and all who are encountered in Cambodia in a way that is as non-biased as possible and that respects the traditions and values of Theravada Buddhism. This project will culminate into the creation of a training manual for community partners in Cambodia and for future McMaster's learning communities that will be translated into both Khmer and English.

Lindsay Kasmer, Senior, Social Work and Psychology - The purpose of this project is to address the issue of undertrained professionals in Cambodia. The scholar is proposing to hold trainings for these professionals. The scholar also hopes to leave behind training materials for them in order to continue to hone their skills after the trainings. The community partners will include Heifer International, CWCC, and several orphanages in the areas that are visited. The expected outcome of the project is trained professionals who are able to successfully administer and evaluate the House-Tree-Person test, allowing them to work efficiently with people of all ages who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dakota Keller, Senior, Molecular Biology - Waterborne illnesses and mortality rates are highly preventable. In order to cause a decline in illnesses and death, water will be tested throughout Cambodia. The knowledge of what is in the water can help prevent death and illnesses by telling the citizens how to cleanse the water. A water chlorination unit and proper training on clean water use will also greatly decline the pandemic of waterborne illnesses. South East Asia Children's Mercy Fund is the primary community partner involved with this project. This project will help Cambodians create safer water for their people and for their animals.

Cormack Lazarus, Sophomore, Molecular Biology - Medical professionals in Cambodia lack the proper training to effectively combat the country's high tuberculosis mortality rate. This is largely due to genocide which took place under the rule of the Khmer Rouge from 1975-1979, during which the educated Cambodians (or those suspected of being 'Westernized') were either killed or fled the country at the risk of being killed if they stayed. The purpose of this project is to continue to provide medical training to undertrained professionals in Cambodia. The scholar plans to devise training manuals and locate and repair microscopes to bring to Cambodia. The community partners include Heifer International, the Cambodia Women's Crisis Center, and the Southeast Asia Children's Mercy Fund. The expected outcome of this project is a training manual, printed in the native Khmer language and also to donate microscopes to different medical locations in Cambodia.

Nick Naylor, Sophomore, Digital Forensic Science - This project will address computer problems in Cambodian schools and shelter homes by giving them a step-by-step computer repair guide. The computer repair guide will be translated into the native language of Khmer. While in Cambodia, the scholar will also be showing them how to make their computers run at maximum potential by doing basic updates and cleaning unnecessary programs and files off the computers.

Elizabeth Pienoski, Sophomore, Forensic Science & Psychology - The purpose of this project is to provide training to professionals in Cambodia working with street children. Research about the different methods and models used in the United States, as well as in other countries, will be used to create a training manual to be translated into Khmer, Cambodia's native language, as well as to create a two and a half hour training session for the professionals in Cambodia that work with the street children. While in Cambodia, there will be many different community partners involved in the project. Members from Friends, South East Asia Children's Mercy Fund, and Krousar Thmey all work with street children already and will be involved in the project. The project is expected to provide Cambodia with models, in their native language, based on the most successful programs and models from other countries, to work with the street children as well as the necessary training provided to the professionals in order to work with and benefit the children in the most effective and proper way.

Alexandra Smith, Senior, Criminal Justice - This project will address social deviance and crime in Cambodia. The scholar will train the NGOs about why people commit acts of social deviance and crime. The community partners that will be involved in the implementation of this project are the Cambodia Women's Crisis Center and the Southeast Asia Children's Mercy Fund. The expected outcome of this project is for the NGOs to retain the knowledge of western social deviance ideas (whether from ideas directly from the training or ideas that were caused from the training) to combat social deviance and crime.

Abigail Taylor, Junior, Accounting - This project will address the problem of poor hand sanitation, which leads to preventable illnesses such as diarrhea, acute respiratory infections, and hand, foot, and mouth disease. The scholar plans to continue building the Tippy Tap hand washing stations in the Cambodian villages and schools while teaching proper hand washing techniques with soap. Also, the scholar will be teaching the community partners how to make soap for their personal use as well as to sell in the market for income. The community partners will consist of children and teachers at local schools visited, women at the Cambodia Women's Crisis Center, and anyone else in the villages where training will be provided. The expected outcome of the project is that the community partners will know and apply the proper hand sanitation procedures using the Tippy Tap hand washing stations that are built. Also, the community partners will know how to make cost-efficient soap and sell it in the markets to provide income for themselves.

Jordan Taylor, Senior, Physical Education and Health - This project will address the lack of educational resources for Cambodian professionals to use for citizens of Cambodia who possess a physical disability. The scholar will take his knowledge and experiences and teach these skills to professionals in Cambodia who in turn will teach the procedures of how to work with one who has physical disabilities. The scholar will teach both educational and practical strategies for enhancing the way of life for those with physical disabilities. The scholar will stress the emphasis of teaching transferable skills for those with physical disabilities; the importance of this is so that one can become educated and efficient in more than one facet of life.

Sarah Westfall, Senior, Social Work - This project will address the lack of training for new professionals on identifying depression and anxiety disorders in Cambodia. The scholar will train staff on identifying characteristics of depression and anxiety disorder, how to do an assessment, and also tools that they can use to do these assessments. The scholar will conduct educational workshops and provide textbooks as references. The community partner for this project will be Heifer International and the Cambodia Women's Crisis Center. The expected outcome of this project will to have trained staff on how to identify depression and anxiety, how to do and assessment for depression and anxiety and how to use the tools that the scholar will provide for them. Overall the scholar would like to provide for them information and training that will be valuable for them in order to help the members of their communities.