In truth, I started this project several years ago. When I began then by surveying my immediate neighborhood for potential interviewees, I stumbled across a building just two blocks away that I had never noticed before, marked by elaborate and unusual stonework. The Cambodian Association of Illinois. Those of you familiar with my work in Cambodia over the past three years know that walking into it, and meeting Leon Lim, were life-changing experiences for me.
So I’m bending the rules for Leon Lim, a high-school teacher (although one could argue that Studs only ever intended to eliminate college professors from his purview of Chicagoans) and volunteer at CAI. Since I first spoke to him a few years ago, he’s done some amazing things. So, for that matter, has CAI. And Cambodia. But I can tell you about that later. First I want you to meet Mr. Lim.
Back in 1981, I volunteered to help this organization, The Cambodian Association of Illinois. Then I became the board president in 1998, when we bought this building.
He is a quiet unassuming man, thin, with dark hair and a quick smile. He dresses impeccably, a pressed button-down shirt and neat pants, and you need to lean in to hear him.
The old office is on Lawrence, too, but near Kenmore, the Uptown area—the 15-something, I forget the address. We bought this building in 1998.