John Key resigned last December as New Zealand’s well respected prime minister from 2008-16. He is now exploring new roles, outside of politics. Among his post politics activities, he serves as a patron of the many philanthropic activities of the estimable Dr. Haruhisa Handa. In that capacity Key spent three days in Cambodia in late April, visiting various projects in the cities of Phnom Penh and Battambang. We spoke there about his impressions and how he sees his new roles and priorities.
Two days before our semifinal game in los Juegos Caribe (a university-wide sports tournament that pits academic departments against each other), my futsal team concluded our practice with a prayer. Bowing our heads and closing our eyes, we listened to the coach (who we endearingly call Profe) deliver a brief sermon to prepare us for the match: “You won’t be able to win this upcoming game on your own. And the Lord won’t win it for you either. In the game, you have to find Him in yourself and work with Him. You have to have the confidence in both yourself and in God to succeed. You need to work together with Him to win this game on Thursday” (translated from Spanish). And in unison, the entire team responded with “amen.” Our team, representing the Department of Philosophy, History, and Sociology, did not end up winning our semifinal game against the Department of Psychology, as we gave up a 2-0 lead and lost in penalty kicks. But the interesting part for me was not the result of the game—it was the prayer.
A few weeks ago, I walked into a kebab shop. I promise this is more extraordinary than it sounds. First, it was 5:30 a.m. Second, I was in Dusseldorf, Germany (a town I had not know existed 24 hours prior). Third, I am a vegetarian.
In one of my classes, we recently read an article called “American Students Abroad Can’t Be ‘Global Citizens’” written by Talya Zemach-Bersin in 2008. The article discusses the “cumulative privilege of race, nationality, education, mobility, and class” that affects the unique experience that many study abroad students have, and that creates a valley of difference between the local realities and experiences that these students take part in for a short period of time.