On April 18, twelve trainee teachers, including students from Takeo province and three from the local area, themselves children of former Khmer Rouge, participated in the tour. Preparing for the journey to Anlong Veng, the students from Takeo wondered what they would learn from the visit, and what to expect from the tour. Were the former Khmer Rouge residents living in Anlong Veng be so different in their beliefs, attitudes, and culture? Several students had little familiarity – or belief – in the history of the Khmer Rouge in general. The April 2018 Peace Tour also marked a particularly important moment within the wider Changing the Story project. While tour participants had previously been assigned research tasks to draft reports on the history and experiences of local residents, the April 2018 tour was the first deployment of participatory film-making methods as a means for students to explore the stories of local residents and former Khmer Rouge. Working in groups of four, the student-teachers were trained in the use of audio-visual equipment ‘on-site’, identifying key themes and questions for their films to explore, before conducting interviews and capturing footage of key sites in the area. The ‘multiplication’ effect of the participatory-film making approach is significant: the trainee-teachers will be able to incorporate their films within their own teaching as they return to their schools.
The experiences of the trainee teachers on the tours, as they take ownership of the production of learning resources about the Khmer Rouge history, promises to be a fruitful avenue for promoting dialogue, intergenerational memory and understanding of the Khmer Rouge regime, especially as the perspectives and experiences of stigmatised lower-level Khmer Rouge are taken seriously. While sensitive to the need to avoid any moral equivocation of different experiences of harm, for DC-Cam and the Anlong Veng Peace Center, reconciliation involves, at least, understanding and acknowledging that lower-level former Khmer Rouge living in Anlong Veng also suffered, themselves experiencing evacuation, starvation, and separation from their family members and relatives at points too.