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Cambodia: Past and Present  

Last Updated: May 27, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Angkor Temples


Essential Questions

  1. What is the meaning of "the importance of a person's journey is to integrate his/her past with his/her present?"
  2. What contributions did Cambodia and the Cambodian people give to the world?
  3. What can folktales tell us about the culture and history of a country?


These three lessons are part of an interdisciplinary unit entitled "Cambodia: Past and Present" that focuses on the history of Cambodia beginning in the Funan Period extending to modern time. Through Cambodian literature, written reflections, slide shows and film, this integrated unit is targeted for grade eight students who will learn about Cambodia in their English, social studies, and writing classes. The essential understanding for this unit of study is that the importance of people's life journeys is to integrate their pasts with their present.

The complete unit for "Cambodia: Past and Present" also includes additional lessons for: First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung, lessons for the book Children of the River by Linda Crew, and the film The Flute Player.

The three lessons:

  • Lesson one: Students analyze Ha Jin's poem "The Past" in order to understand that the past is a prelude to the future. The purpose of this lesson is to set the foundation around how people deal with their past and how the past impacts their lives.
  • Lesson two: Students read Cambodian literature and learn about the great Angkor period where remnants of this past are still evident today in Cambodia. During day two of that lesson, students are actively engaged in a slide show that portrays the history of ancient Cambodia up to the present day. They compare fact and fiction.
  • Lesson 3: The slide show also lays the foundation for the book First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung. Students read and respond in writing to chapter one that describes Cambodia before the war and make connections with Ha Jin's Poem "The Past."

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