April 2009

A Time to Remember

by socheata on April 27, 2009

Last week, my parents and I participated in several genocide commemoration events in Washington, DC. It was an honor to be able to represent the Cambodian survivor community at a Save Darfur event in front of the White House.

Although I have had the opportunity to speak many times in groups of 20-500, my parents are relatively week immigrant Americans who have always shied away from the spotlight. The extent of their public speaking has come after a few screenings of New Year Baby when they answered questions from the audience.

My mother spoke briefly in English and then said a prayer in Khmer to remember the millions of lives lost during the Cambodian genocide.

I’m very proud of them. They loved being a part of this event.

I also had the chance to meet Carl Wilkens, one of my personal heroes. Just two weeks earlier, I had invoked Carl’s story when speaking to college students at Babson College and UMass Amherst. Carl saved over 500 people during the genocide in Rwanda, and he was the only American in the entire country during the 4 month tragedy. You can read more of his story here.

We also joined 80 members of the Cambodian community to commemorate the 34th anniversary of the Cambodian genocide at a solemn candlelight vigil. We shared stories of our loved ones, our sorrows and even our anger at the lack of justice.

We visited the beautiful Cambodian Buddhist temple in Silver Spring, MD – the largest of its kind in the country. Celebrating Cambodian New Year was truly a pleasure there.