“April 30, 1975 - In the early hours of the 30th, the last helicopter to evacuate US officials and some South Vietnamese allies pulled out, and not too longer after, Saigon fell to the Vietcong. So as we remember the US soldiers and the war that the US didn’t win, let’s not forget the Vietnamese refugees, the Hmong who were abandoned despite their assistance to the CIA, the rise of the Khmer Rouge because of the US bombings in Cambodia and its aftermath, etc. The Vietnam War has a huge grip on the American conscience, and what we learn in textbooks that does not do justice to the million of lives who have been impacted by war, both here and abroad.
This picture by Hubert Van Es captures a helicopter on an apartment building rooftop in downtown Saigon where CIA employees were housed. Though the setting has been mistaken to be the US Embassy in South Vietnam, it essentially gives the sense of desperation that was rampant among the South Vietnamese this time 38 years ago.”
Trauma rooted in genocide, Cambodian youth confront ‘historical forgetting’
For an all-female group [Khmer Girls in Action] of Cambodian American teens in Long Beach, home to the country’s largest Cambodian community, the target of their adolescent disaffection is their parents’ generational hopelessness.
Many of the girls’ parents arrived in Long Beach in the early 1980s after fleeing the “killing fields” of the Khmer Rouge regime, a genocide that resulted in an estimated 1.7 to 2 million deaths. Survivors of unimaginable horror, many have kept their stories untold, creating a generation of silence that has taken a profound toll on their children.
Nearly half of the respondents reported symptoms of depression, including loneliness, fear, insomnia, cutting and other self-harming acts. Most – especially young males – said they experienced discriminatory treatment at school, with 1 in 3 saying they were frequently stopped or pulled over by police.
Stuff about our body is kind of taboo to talk about with your family,” said 16-year-old Amanda Em. “We’re kind of reserved. It’s awkward to bring up, so everyone ignores it.
“It used to mean being poor and being seen as a dropout or a gangster,” Chhuon said. “But to these young people, being Cambodian means being a survivor, an activist, coming from an incredibly resilient tradition of people.”
Passages from Trauma rooted in genocide, Cambodian youth confront ‘historical forgetting’ via California Watch
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The Green Papaya is a community blog and online forum where the Southeast Asian community may share its stories. Its goal is to provide an online space that engages the SEA community, fosters voices within that community, and also raise awareness about that community. If you wish to submit a post, click here.
So I did something crazy
I stood up to my mother for the first time in my life.
To all the people that don’t know me very well keep in mind my parents are both Khmer Rouge genocide survivors. Trauma survivors raise kids with trauma symptoms, and my depression and anxiety stems from this. Because of this my academics get really screwed up, and this is what caused me to be in the hospital for a week.
After I got out, I had to go home where all my triggers are. I’m my parents emotional punching bag and mom uses me to vent all the time. I think my mom has a lot of psycological issues that she needs to address, that I can’t handle, so I end up sick with guilt. Here’s a quick explanation under the cut of what happened.
EDIT: This is also the main reason why I’ll be less active on tumblr. I need to fix my life.
Southeast Asian Restoring Community Hope of Rhode Island.
I’ve attended the first 3 sessions for SEARCH (if you count the retreat a session). The retreat was very informative. There were questions that were asked that help the women in the room reflect on our own roots a little better.
What do we know about Southeast Asian history?
- Khmer Rouge
- The Hmong People
- Secret War on Laos
- Vietnam War
The first slide that was presented on the slide show was about a Chinese American named Vincent Chin. He was beaten to death in 1982 for being Asian. In Detroit at the time there was a decline in the American auto industry and many jobs were lost to the Japanese. His death was based on false accusations. Those who killed him assumed he was Japanese because he was Asian.
The second slide was about the Viet Vote. There was a Viet community in Dorchester that was completely ignored. Only 100 people at the time voted-no vote no power.
Mee Moua is the first Hmong American State Senator in the US. She currently is the president and executive director of Asian American Justice Center.
Joseph Cao is the first US Vietnamese American to serve in US Congress. He served on congress from 2009-2011.
Thavisouk Phrasavath is the first Laotian American to be Oscar-nominated first to win Emmy for directing. (Betrayal)
Loung Ung wrote a personal account of her experience of the killings during the Khmer Rouge.
Learning about Southeast Asian history definitely opened my eyes more to what I can do in my community. Being a female, Asian, and young are 3 disadvantages in the leadership world, but that why I embarked on the SEARCH journey.
The 1st session we all met the mayor of Providence RI, Cranston RI, and Fitchburg MA. They were all very informative and inspiring. I like the mayor of Fitchburg the most. She herself is an Asian American woman. She had a lot to tell us and told us first hand stories about her experiences as a leader (good and bad).
Today’s session was about registering to vote. I would get into detail about it but there is just way too much to talk about. Basically to sum it all up. Defend yourself. Being a Southeast Asian female, you have to constantly defend yourself. You have to speak up and say what’s on your mind. What are you going to be like in 10 years? Will things change if you say something? You’ll never know unless you try. The Southeast Asian community in Rhode Island is very under represented, heck I think the Southeast Asian community in New England is underrepresented. My colleagues and I have the same passion to be that momentum to get things going in our area. Get them to vote, help them become citizens, inform them about our government, educate them!
The next session will be about fundraising for the first National SEARCH Conference held in RI. This is going to be big. This is the first conference held in the New England area. Invites for Asian leaders, (especially females ones) will be sent all across the U.S ranging from Minnesota, California, D.C, etc. We will all come together and hold this conference to empower more Asian women to take lead.
One of the guest speakers from today’s session told us that today’s society is rough on women. It’s true. What are you going to do if you are too dependent? What if you get married and then the guy decides to leave you? What are you going to do if all you want to do is search for love. Seek your independence and walk that road those before you paved. It’s your job to put the cement on. You need to rely on yourself nowadays. Get yourself established first before doing something stupid. I think that personal desires (money, love, etc.) will make it’s way to you once you are stable.
A heart wrenching true story of Nun Sila: just one of many countless mothers that did all they could to keep their family alive, only to see the vast majority be killed or starve to death in the fateful years of the Khmer Rouge regime.
A letter from my mother to hers.
Dear Mommy Dearest,
It has been 3 years since you left us. Three years ago I began a two year long downward journey into insanity, depression, and fear unlike any I’d ever experienced in the past. Three years ago I no longer had hope and I felt like my life was over. Three years ago I wanted to be at the hospital, climb into bed with you and hold you as much as I couldn’t stand the thought of hearing your voice or seeing your face ever again. Three years ago I kept waiting to wake up from the nightmare. It felt like you are still physically here with me. Today I didn’t cry, didn’t feel hopeless, but I still miss you. Today I realized that my journey out of depression was difficult but worth it in the long run. I have very strong support from families and friends.
You have always been my life and saviour. I wanted to share with you my personal theories on the directions my life has taken. You are gone and I miss you so much. Remember mom, when I was 8 months old I got very sick. You took me to several doctors and all they could tell you is that I have no chance of surviving. They told you to make funeral arrangement for me. You never gave up hope on me. You kept on walking by feet because you didn’t know how to drive and carried me to find a doctor that could help saved my life. Half of my body had deterioated and died already mom. You saved my life. Again, our live was struck by the Khmer Rouge Holocaust from 1975-1979. We were kept in a Concentration Camp and forced to work hard labor with no food. Mom we had no food. You gave your food to us and starved yourself. We thought our live would get better after the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia in 1979. Mom, I got sick again at the age of 9 years old. I caught the measels. I went into a coma for 4 long weeks. My hair had fallen off and my skin was deterioating. No one thought I was going to pull out of this one alive. There was no medicine, doctors, or hospitals. We were homeless. You sold everything we had even daddy’s gold teeth filings to buy food and medicine for me. Your strong love, strength, devotion, affection, determination, and perseverance saved my life.
How I wish I can call you and talk to you driving home from work on a bad traffic day. You kept me on the phone until you knew I was safe and sound at home because you knew I was afraid of driving. I never realized until recently just how spoiled I truly was. But I never really had to want for anything. Now I want so much that my head swims. Worst, I want things for my children.
How I wish that you are here to see my children growing up. Today I don’t feel alone now that my kids are older and able to talk to me and give me support. Amanda, Nathan, and Chandler really miss you. I am very proud of them. They have grown up to be what you thought and expected out of them. I pray every night that you would lend a healing hand to Nathan as he is still trying to coupe with the lost of both of you. Mom and Dad, please show him the path to a better health and life. He is really sick from missing you.
I’ve been having migraine headache for almost two weeks now mom. Nothing seems to be helping. Yet you came to save me again even though you are gone. You appear in my dream last night and when I woke up my head feels a lot lighter and clearer. You helped me fight the demons that were inside of me out. You always seem to make things so simple and easy.
Anyways, how are you feeling mom? I remember how sick you were. Now that you’re in Heaven, I can imagine you are running in delight. I know you are in a better place but I still long for you to be here. Is that selfish, mom? I wish you could give me some advice. There were so much widsom, knowledge, and kindness in your words. The example you demonstrated in my life has given me such love. Your strength and devotion in life has blessed mine. I am everything I am today because you loved me. You still live inside of me. I am so blessed and grateful to have you as my mother. You are my Saviour and Guardian Angel.
I Love You For Eternity,
Your Baby Daughter