For this Season 1, Episode 4, I spoke with both Sok Theary Nak and Leakhena (Lyk) Yoeun. We serve together as board members with The National Cambodian Heritage Museum (NCHM), currently the only museum outside of Cambodia that centers on the history of the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields era, and serves as a memorial space for survivors and the 2+ million lives that were lost during that 4 year period (1975-79). In our discussion together, we spoke about our upbringing with our parents who came into the Chicago(land) area as refugees. We shared our experiences with the Chicago Uptown neighborhood which serves as a the hub for many Southeast Asian refugees, and our role as board members with the museum. Sok Theary shares her experience going to Cambodia for the first time with her family this past summer while Lyk shares her experience living in Cambodia soon after her father's stroke.
Sok Theary Bio:
Sok Theary is a refugee immigrant whose family was sponsored to the United States from Khao I Dang refugee camp in the late 80. She has been involved with the Cambodian community since moving to Chicago in 2000 as a teenager and became a participant in the after school Youth program of the Cambodian Association of Illinois. Finally having the opportunity to immerse herself in the cultural arts of Cambodia, she dove right into the classes offered.
Now a preschool teacher and mother of two, SokTheary and her children are currently enrolled in cultural music classes together at the museum, and her daughters are avid participants in the cultural dance program. As a unit, SokTheary and her family love the arts in all forms, theater, dance, music, visiting museums , and listening to poetry and storytelling.
Leakhena Yoeun (LyK) bio:
Lyk Yoeun is a second generation Cambodian American born and raised in Chicago. Both of Lyk's parents are Cambodian genocide survivors. She recently just return back to Chicago this Summer 2019, after living in Cambodia for about three years.
Lyk's identifies herself as American Born Cambodian, or ABC. She’s had to overcome challenges, while learning to appreciate the identities of East meet West merging together. Through her parents’ mentorship and support, Lyk learned to live and survive identity crisis. One of these accomplishments to overcome identity crisis is in her ability to navigate both worlds, being able to speak, read, and write in both English and Khmer.
Lyk balances work and personal time by doing meditation, yoga, reading, creative writing, dancing, music, food, and traveling. For more on the Cambodian Museum, please visit www.cambodianmuseum.org or go to our Facebook page and "like" us at www.facebook.com/cambodianmuseum
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