Cambodian New Year Celebrated Through Art and Struggle

Apr. 19, 2013 / By

In the aftermath of years of war, over 1 million Cambodia refugees fled with their families to rebuild their lives in the U.S. and many of those families set their roots in Long Beach.

As Cambodian New Year celebrations take place all over the city this week, one event sought out to commemorate the occasion in a different manner.

The Cambodian artist community came together this past Saturday to remember the past and to bring to attention the issues currently facing its immigrant community today at an event called Generation Return: Art + Justice Post-Genocide and Post-9/11.

“Khmer New Year is a time to not only celebrate our culture, honor our ancestors and welcome in a new season of good fortune, but also is a time for us to reflect on our history and how far we’ve come as a community and as families,” said Seng So, Long Beach community organizer with Khmer Girls in Action.

Long beach currently has the largest concentration of Cambodians outside of Cambodia.

Main performer and artist of the event, Anida Yoeu Ali, highlighted the issue of Cambodian-Americans’ mistreatment after being deported to Cambodia.

“They are unjustly prosecuting people a to a level that feels inhuman as Americans,” Ali said. The video above, shares some of her comments.

The event also allowed Cambodian elders to tell their stories about culture and how it felt to live in Cambodia during the war.

Cambodian history was expressed through dance, music and spoken word at the event, which took place at the ArtExchange. Multiple organizations including KGA and Khmer Arts Academy were represented and displayed their work, as well as art created by local artists.

To learn more about the event and hear from its organizer, watch the video and photo slideshow above.

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Adalhi Montes

As a teenager, Adalhi began volunteering at many programs helping our communities become healthier and safer to provide resources to people in need. He was involved with Weed and Seed in Central Long Beach and is a youth mentor for the California Conference for Equality and Justice. Adalhi is also in the process of completing the neighborhood leadership program at the Advanced Organizing Institute and is studying Radio and television broadcasting at LBCC. In the future, he looks forward to joining the Marine Corps and continuing his education.