//When in Rome, do as the Romans do

When in Rome, do as the Romans do

Recently, I feel that Japanese people living in Cambodia are not cheerful. In a positive way, I could say that their living of them has been getting more steady, but there is very little big good news about them recently.
I’ve always been wanting to strengthen the presence of Japan in Cambodia ever since I started working for this newspaper, but I often feel frustrated because of the enormous presence of China.
I couldn’t help feeling the big influence of China during the Chinese new year holiday last month. It wasn’t Cambodia’s national holiday, but there were some people and companies that had a few days off conventionally.
The other day, I went to a sight to cover a story. People there were almost all Cambodians, which is a usual thing, but this time there was another Japanese man there unusually. That was very assuring. He helped me with stuff.
Usually, at press conferences, there are interpreters, but when a Cambodian person asks a question to a Cambodian person, it sometimes doesn’t get interpreted into English. Also, after a question-and-answer period, there often is a chance of an on-the-move interview or on-the-spot interview and there rarely is an interpreter, so I don’t get what is said at all. I can understand what was said after it is translated into Japanese from Khmer as I usually record interviews, but I don’t always have an interpreter with me on that kind of occasion like on-the-move interviews, so I sometimes can’t ask a question to dig a bit deeper. The articles about that kind of interview, which I can’t get the gist of, tend to be not used.
That’s when I really feel that I have to learn the Khmer language.
I’ve been living in Cambodia for 4 years, but I’ve always depended on the local people who I could talk to either in Japanese or English, which made me barely able to do even an ordinary conversation now. People often are surprised by my poor skill in the Khmer language after living here for 4 years.
There are some people who came to Cambodia after I came here and are better at the Khmer language than I am. I have to realize how lazy I have been.
As I mentioned in the beginning, I want to strengthen the presence of Japan in Cambodia, and in that way, I should get into the community of local people more, then Khmer language skills would be necessary.
There are many people who both work and study Khmer, so busyness can’t be an excuse. It’s time when the strength of my thoughts is tried.