Erin Moriarty Harrelson

BATTAMBANG, Cambodia – Standing by the counter on the ground floor of Romcheik 5 New Art Space, a gallery and compound where four young artists live and work, I felt the same way I did when I was in the fifth grade when I finally caught Carmen Sandiego. Squinting with effort, I tried to lipread Jacques...

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia—The men (and occasionally, a woman) show up at the entrance of Deaf Development Programme, standing uncertainly by the corrugated steel gate, downcast eyes on their feet, as the person who brought them to DDP speaks to the elderly guard at the painted wooden desk just inside. They are often picked up from...

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — By the end of the day, the lime green wall was covered with fluttering pieces of white copy paper, some with expressive drawings, others with words in Khmer script. Some of the paper was taped together in groups based on their thematic content. Tired participants sat in clusters, some checking Facebook,...

KAMPONG CHAM, Cambodia – It all began with a funny story followed by an innocent question. A few weeks ago, I visited my friend, Srey. It was the first time I had been inside her home. She was giving me a tour of the house and when we entered the bedroom she shared with her...

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia—My first brush with the medical system in Cambodia was in late November when a close friend had to suddenly leave a luncheon she was hosting at her house to interpret for someone at a hospital. Her husband took over supervising the festivities so we continued to sit in a circle, cross-legged, on...

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia–During a respite from agonizing about how to pack for a ten-day trip to Laos that included a meeting with representatives from the Laotian Association of the Deaf, a three-day Laotian wedding, and sightseeing in scorching heat, I sat down on my couch, idly scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed. The first inkling of...

PHNOM PENH—The city has been eerily quiet in recent days. Many businesses are shuttered, gray steel plates blocking their entrances; oval red-and-gold paper lanterns swinging in the light breeze, tassels jerking crazily. The typically chaotic Phnom Penh traffic is somewhat easier to navigate. Side streets are deserted. Many people are at home with their families, celebrating...

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia– On almost every side street in Phnom Penh there is a sign, sometimes several in a row, advertising massages by blind people. In addition to these ubiquitous blind massage businesses, there are also shops advertising clothing and accessories “made by people with disabilities.” If I see a sign advertising merchandise made by people...

Kampong Thuch, CAMBODIA— After observing the first day of school for deaf adults in Kampot, I joined the Deaf Development Programme (DDP) outreach team as they went into the field. These visits had a dual purpose: follow up with the families of the students who didn’t come to school on Monday and to check on...

KAMPOT, Cambodia– With the faded blue wooden shutters thrown open, I sat at the desk in my sunlit, whitewashed room in a French colonial building on a quiet side street, scrolling through photographs on my laptop. As a gentle breeze from the ceiling fan curled over my bare feet, my day unfolded on the screen...

  PHNOM PENH — In the bluish early morning light, we gathered by the gate of Deaf Development Programme (DDP) with our provisions of fully-charged smartphones, water, face masks, cameras and scarves for what promised to be a long day. The four of us, a teacher, an interpreter, a deaf interpreter and a tag-along anthropologist,...

PHNOM PENH – On the white board, nine words in Khmer are listed in blue. In the cool, dim room, members of the Cambodian Sign Language committee are seated at an oval conference table scattered with the various implements essential to their work—iced coffee sweetened by condensed milk, a Khmer-English dictionary, paper and pencils. Papers...

PHNOM PENH – In a dim room at the Deaf Community Center in Phnom Penh, I watch as Chamroeun, a deaf Cambodian and staff member at Deaf Development Programme, narrates the history of Cambodia. As history unfolded before my eyes, I couldn’t help but think about its implications for deaf people. In front of a...

KEP and PHNOM PENH—It never ceases to amaze me how ingenious many Cambodians are when confronted with a deaf tourist. The first time I traveled alone in Cambodia, I quickly learned to point to my ears and use the Khmer gesture for “not have,” a five-fingered rocking of the hands in a position that resembles...

Phnom Penh, Cambodia–“She can’t talk?” As I picked through the mountains of paintings at a booth in the hot, claustrophobia-inducing warren of merchandise that is the Russian Market in Phnom Penh, I noticed in my peripheral vision that the vendor, a young Cambodian woman, was looking at me with a puzzled expression. Recognizing the look...