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on Etsy

Teacher's Lesson Plans - Cambodia

Written by Bhavia C. Wagner, educator and author of Soul Survivors – Stories of Women and Children in Cambodia.
Click here to download a PDF of these lessons.


Nine lessons relate to the subjects of Cambodian history, art and culture, genocide, human rights, landmines, sweatshops, refugees in America, war and peace, and powerful women. Each lesson plan relates to chapters in Soul Survivors – Stories of Women and Children in Cambodia by Bhavia C. Wagner. The lessons are taught through the life stories of Cambodian people. Lists of related books, videos and websites are included. These lessons may be used in sequence or individually. The first lesson is a good overview of the country and is a useful introduction to any of the other lessons.

Cambodia is a dramatic country. Within its history are the mystique of a beautiful ancient empire, the horrors of genocide and war, and the excitement of an emerging democracy. It has opportunities for students to learn about how the US government affects the lives of people in other countries, both negatively and positively. Students discover how their personal clothing purchases impact people in Cambodia. They gain insight as to what it is like to be a refugee in this country. Students are inspired by strong Cambodian women who put into action their desire to benefit humanity.

Grade Level:
8 – 12
(written for high school, but adaptable for middle school)

Materials Needed:

  • Soul Survivors – Stories of Women and Children in Cambodia by Bhavia C. Wagner.
  • World map.
  • Optional: Students can use the internet for research.
Lesson One – Introduction to Cambodian History

Students gain an overall picture of Cambodia’s history, appreciate how ancient Angkor still lives in Cambodian culture, understand the resentment that builds during foreign occupation, and get to know a Cambodian student named Daravuth and the challenges he faces.
Click here to see this lesson.

Lesson Two - Genocide in Cambodia

Learn to recognize the eight stages of genocide, as they occurred in Cambodia and elsewhere, and what can be done to prevent each stage. Meet a 15 year-old girl who survives the genocide and works to rebuild her life. She becomes the leader of an organization working to help poor women.
Click here to see this lesson.

Lesson Three - Human Rights in Cambodia

Learn about human rights in Cambodia through the story of Chath, a genocide survivor and US refugee, who now works for a Cambodian human rights organization. Discuss the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and how they have been violated in Cambodia and in our own communities. Learn about non-governmental humanitarian organizations in Cambodia.
Click here to see this lesson.

Lesson Four – Sweatshops in Cambodia

Through the study of sweat shops we explore the link between American students’ clothes and exploitation of Cambodian garment workers. Students will consider what can be done about sweatshops.
Click here to see this lesson.

Lesson Five - War and Peace in Cambodia

Discuss the role of US foreign policy and how it affected Cambodia from 1969 through today. Learn about US aid to Cambodia, activities of the UN and the Buddhist peace movement.
Click here to see this lesson.

Lesson Six - Cambodian Artists and Culture

Through the stories of a dancer and a weaver students will learn about Cambodia’s traditional arts of classical dance and silk weaving. Students will also learn about other aspects of Cambodian culture including food, celebrations, holidays, language and literature.
Click here to see this lesson.

Lesson Seven - Powerful Women in Cambodia

Students will read the personal stories of two women in Cambodia. One became a doctor and the other started a non-profit organization to help poor women. Students will learn about the problems facing women in Cambodia and how to improve the status of Cambodian women.
Click here to see this lesson.

Lesson Eight - Landmines in Cambodia

Students will read the story of Maline, a school girl who stepped on a landmine and survived. They will learn about landmines, demining efforts, the campaign to ban landmines and what we can do.
Click here to see this lesson.

Lesson Nine - Cambodian Refugees in America

The topic of refugees will be explored through the stories of two orphaned Cambodian boys who came to live in the US. What challenges did they face? What are the similarities and differences between their culture and life experiences and our own? How can we help refugees?
Click here to see this lesson.

Bhavia Wagner is available for questions or speaking engagements and can be reached at .

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