PEMSEA Field School Blog 2023: Day 1
M.A. Student, UCLA Asian American Studies
The first day was filled with laughter, excitement, and community. We all woke up at 6:30am and walked downstairs to a beautiful breakfast at Altos Hotel in Phnom Penh with our field director Dr. Piphal Heng, and PI Dr. Stephen Acabado. We went to the sunlight-filled hotel restaurant and everyone had excited smiles on their faces.
After we all had our coffees and ordered the same soup, we headed off to the Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA). We met the six Khmer students and intern, Dariya, who are joining the field school and they gave us an extraordinary tour of their school. The students shared facts about RUFA, such as the university being the oldest in Cambodia when it was founded in 1917. We went into many different classrooms and watched other students paint, sing, and play music.
We congregated in a conference room where we had the incredible opportunity to meet with Dr. Heng Sophady, the director of the university. Dr. Sophady welcomed us, and explained RUFA’s history with archaeology. He emphasized the importance of collaboration between the Khmer students and the international students, and the many teachings we can learn from each other.
Afterwards, we all thanked Dr. Sophady for his time. We headed to the National History Museum of Cambodia where we saw many different artifacts and heard from many different museum conservationists. They explained to us how they piece together artifacts, how they conserve metal artifacts, and how they assemble broken ceramics to make the piece whole again.
After we finished, we headed off for a six-hour bus ride to Siem Reap, where we will stay for the duration of the field school. Finally, when we reached Siem Reap we had dinner together with the other field school students from the Philippines and Thailand who had just arrived in the city. We ended the night with dragon fruit, and all headed to bed to get some rest before the first day at the field site.