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On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness: Responses from Dith Pran and the Dalai Lama

written by: Sarah Degnan Moje • edited by: Carly Stockwell • updated: 2/23/2015

This lesson introduces students to the Cambodian genocide under the Khmer Rouge regime and allows them to draw comparisons between this and the Jewish genocide. Then student's will analyze the responses of the Dalai Lama and Dith Pran.

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    On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness: Responses from Dith Pran & the Dalai Lama Once your students have read the symposium portion of Wiesenthal’s book, a perfect place to insert a cross curricular lesson presents itself. Introduce students to another holocaust-like situation, The Cambodian Genocide under the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. Use the power point on the topic to give students an overview of the Killing Fields of Cambodia. Then, you can move back to the text. Have students read the response from Dith Pran, a survivor of The Killing Fields. Then, use the power point as a discussion point for Pran’s response. After they have discussed Pran’s response and reflected on how his experience would allow him to reach that conclusion, move on to another historical figure.

    Give students a brief overview of who the Dalai Lama is, but this time, require them to work in groups to create a power point, which covers why the Dalai Lama had to flee China and hide in Tibet. Give students some class time for research and then, have them make their presentations. After those are finished, assign the Dalai Lama’s response for reading and use the power point for discussion.

    Finally, have students compare the life experiences of Simon Wiesenthal, Dith Pran, and the Dalai Lama, using quotes and information from all the power points and all the essays in Wiesenthal’s text. You’ll have a well-developed writing assignment that can work as both a history and literacy grade.

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    Pol Pot - The Khmer Rouge in Cambodia
    Dith Pran's Response
    The Dalai Lama's Response


  • Flag of the Communist Party of Kampuchea in the Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons