Some of my best and brightest students think the USA and Australia are countries in Europe.
So, I project a map of the world onto a screen.
Few can point out Europe. Just a few more are able to show me the USA. Australia is easier, New Zealand of course, draws a blank.
Except for one boy. His father bought a World Map for the house some years before. He’s in a minority of one.
“Do you have maps at school?” I ask these mostly sixteen and seventeen year olds.
“No,” they all shout. “Just a map showing Cambodia’s provinces,” they say. That’s depressingly insular, I think.
It’s such a small thing to have a map of the world and I remember spending hours at their age pouring over an atlas and wondering…
And these aren’t Cambodia’s poor, most of them belong to the expanding middle-class.
Many want to study abroad… in countries they cannot yet locate on a map.