24 October 2010

Spooky Cambodia

I often ask my Cambodian students if they believe in ghosts; most do. Some say sometimes and some so that they don't- although many of those don't seem sure!

These students are usually from Phnom Penh and have far more education than most Cambodians. So you can be sure that the level of belief in evil spirits and ghosts is high in rural Cambodia.

And so it comes as no surprise that when ten teenage girls collapsed- one-after-another in a rural Cambodian school, it was angry spirits they blamed.

"We are afraid we are under a spell because we didn't offer any traditional dancing and music to the spirits on the opening day this year," said school's principal.

The district governor, Pech Sophea, agreed, "We think that perhaps the spirits are angry because the doctors, teachers and even police found no trace of poison or physical weakness."

The solution?

"But we have just offered fruits, boiled chickens and wine to the spirits today, and we hope the students will get better and the spirits will take care of us," said the headmaster.

Undoubtedly his charges will continue to believe in nonsense, then.


  1. The district Governor needs a wake up call.

    Gas leaks? Industrial chemicals being used near by? The list of possible causes is endless.

  2. That's a good point. Sadly though a few fainting kids aren't likely to wake most Cambodian Governors from their slumber.

    (thanks for the post on my Young Learners blog, btw. They were quite excited!)

  3. how in the world does education have anything to do with believing in ghosts or not? obviously your view is pretty bias. as you should know by now, cambodians, as with many southeast asian groups, are superstitious. it has nothing to do with education.

    that said, i do think that it is unwise to believe there is a demon possession and do an "exorcist" when what the person is suffering from is schizophrenia or the likes.

  4. So should I take it that if a person isn't suffering from schizophrenia then you think that an "exorcist" should take place? Or, in other words, if there is some sort of problem, one should resort to mumbo-jumbo? Ridiculous!

    And my view is biased? How so? Are you saying that education has no role to play in reducing the dangers of believing in superstitious nonsense? (supersition being a belief not based on reason or knowledge)

  5. Hi Phillip, it was my pleasure to leave comments on blogs, I am genuinely interested in what they have to say. I have subscribed to both blogs and listed them on my blog roll page, under Internation Young Bloggers :) so I can keep up to date.