The following experiences are just a few of the near daily examples that have prompted me to ask two of my Cambodian friends, “Why are Cambodians so generous?” The fact that I’m even asking says a lot about how much less we share with each other in North America compared to other cultures around the world.
1. I’ve heard stories from my friends now about how hard it was growing up with little money. Young people have so much responsibility by financially supporting their families if they have job. I can think of at least a few times in the four months I’ve been here where they will tell me their story, including low salaries, and pay for my meal within the same conversation.
2. I’ve kept in touch with my friends who work at my favourite guesthouse. When I wanted to bring friends there for my birthday, within two hours some of the staff rushed to get me gifts and nice notes. One of them apologized that they couldn’t get me something on time because they had little time to find something. Every time I go there, even though I’m no longer a guest, they always offer me a cold towel when it’s hot outside, tea, coffee, bananas and peanuts. When I thank my friends for it, she said, “You’re welcome we are good friends me and all my team we must care you when you’re with us far away from your mum:-)”
3. I left a $1 fan at a very small local BBQ place. You couldn’t even tell it was a restaurant if you were passing by, but if you know the place then you know it’s a small restaurant. We left the place for at least 15 minutes and it was pitch dark. All of a sudden a man pulls up on his scooter after circling around the river to find me and hands me my fan.
After I asked two of my friends, “Why are Cambodians so generous?” One of them looked at me confused because it is normal to her she said, “We just like to share, especially with friends.” My other friend said, “It is in our culture. We like to give from our hearts.”