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Exhibit about Cambodian genocide, diaspora opens Saturday

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Posted: Friday, December 15, 2017 11:37 am

A little over a year ago, a small group of Cambodian Americans decided to embark on a cultural journey. They set out to accomplish just one goal: bringing more awareness about the Cambodian genocide to the Stockton area.

On Saturday, the United Cambodian American Network will open an exhibit called “The Cambodian Experience: Our Journey to America” at the San Joaquin County Office of Education.

The exhibit of art, photos, music, dance and theater explores the cultural contributions of Cambodians in the region.

More than 40 years ago, Cambodian refugees began arriving in the United States, fleeing the mass genocide that took place in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979. A number of families found new homes in and around Stockton. More than 15,000 Cambodian Americans now live in the area.

“Learning a new language and culture was not easy for many families, as can you can imagine,” UCAN said in a press release. However, the immigrants and refugees have worked to become a productive part of the county’s community, they said.

However, they also want to remember the culture and history of their former home country.

“What is missing from our community is the history of what the Cambodian people endured to build new lives here,” the press release said.

That’s where UCAN’s efforts come in. “The Cambodian Experience” brings together historical and modern photos, visual artwork and textile arts exploring the Cambodian-American journey to San Joaquin County. Events throughout the exhibit will showcase Cambodian theatre, dance and musical traditions.

A special part of the exhibit will commemorate those who lost their lives in the Cambodian genocide.

“This cultural and art exhibit will allow Stockton’s public and other surrounding communities to ... learn more about the Cambodian-American people who are an integral part of Stockton’s social fabric and history,” the press release said.

“The Cambodian Experience” has been funded by the Stockton Arts Commission, Critical Refugee Studies Grant through UC Berkeley, and Placeholder Magazine.

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