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Friday, June 27, 2008

LMU Alternative Breaks Volunteer - Kyle


I felt privileged to meet with the monks at Wat Chork. We got to see where this group of monks live, study, and worship. We visited Wat Chork early in our trip and came back multiple times which allowed us to develop relationships with some of them. Most of the monks I spent time with were 18-24 years of age and were incredibly friendly, curious, and down to earth. Some were more eager to practice their English than others, as their English levels spanned from giving you a quiet shy stare, to some monks who were inquiring about US politics and even interested in learning more languages. Getting to walk around and talk with the monks as they gave us a complete tour of the temples enhanced the intimacy of my experience there. They explained the story of Buddhism as it is displayed artistically in one of their worship temples. I got to hear about the alternative life style of a monk, as it is very different than the average life of a Cambodian citizen, which includes their sacrifice of dancing, alcohol, contact with females, no dinner policy, no killing of any living being and how all these sacrifices will bring them closer to their Buddha and allow for less distraction during meditation. I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with the monks, hearing about their stories of pre-monk hood and exchanging both Khmer and English lessons with each other. We got the honor of having the monks shave our head as they do to themselves every 15 days. It was a surreal experience being that immersed in such a foreign culture's long time religious tradition. I would not trade my experience with the monks with any other, and can truly call some of them my friends.

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