Nowhere has history come alive for us more than Cambodia.  Just forty years ago, the Khmer Rouge swept in, ostensibly as the “Peace Party,” after the wars of Southeast Asia, and proceeded to exterminate two million of their own people.  A generation was literally wiped out.  The Khmer Rouge regime executed almost the entire professional class.  If you went to college, you were killed.  If you wore glasses, you were considered to be an intellectual and hence executed.  Of four thousand doctors in Cambodia before Pol Pot’s rule, only forty doctors remained.  Every person from the city was marched out into the countryside because Pol Pot, the despotic leader, believed in making an entirely agrarian society.  Phnom Penh became a ghost town.  Families were split apart.  Men and women were made to marry and have children.  Everyone was made to farm rice, but very few knew how so a terrible famine came.  Everyone in the country today has been directly touched by this genocide.  It is impossible to escape.So when you travel to Cambodia, none of this feels like history at all.  It feels much more immediate.  When we visited S-21, the former high school which was transformed into a prison in the heart of Phnom Penh, now a genocide museum, Franny had so many questions, all stemming from “How could this happen?”  Answers are hard to provide.  Our family had read Orwell’s “Animal Farm” at the beginning of our trip and we find it is apropos over and over again — in China, in Laos, in Argentina — a regime that claims to be for the people crushing the very people it says to be representing.  But even within this context, the Khmer Rouge is barely fathomable.  What kind of power did Pol Pot possess that he could lead so many to do such horrible things to their brethren?The extraordinary part is that the Cambodian people we met — just one generation removed from these horrors — absolutely amazed us.  Everyone we encountered was directly affected by the Khmer Rouge — either their father was killed, or their brothers were killed, or they grew up in refugee camps on the Thai border.  But somehow, these Cambodian people who survived still show a remarkable joyous spirit.  They are kind, welcoming and generous.  This testament to human resiliency stands in stark contrast to the country’s horrifying recent history.After experiencing S-21 Prison, Franny wrote down her impressions:  “Glass sticking up from the towering gates.  Barbed-wire on every door.  No chance at escape, no dreams of freedom.  Stepping into the jail cells in S-21, I could only imagine the terror that went down there.  Seeing endless pictures on the walls of the innocent people who were killed just because they could read or write, or knew too much, brought tears to my eyes.  S-21 was once a school, where children learned to read and write, but after the Khmer Rouge it became a torture chamber.  So close to the middle of a beautiful city, it is where many people spent their last days on earth.  S-21 is a reminder that too much power placed in the wrong hands can lead to terrible, unimaginable things.”