WBEZ | Cambodian American Heritage Museum and Killing Fields Memorial http://www.wbez.org/tags/cambodian-american-heritage-museum-and-killing-fields-memorial Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Leaving Cambodia http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-11/leaving-cambodia-103843 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/killing%20fields%20memorial%20wbez.jpg" style="float: right; width: 446px; height: 334px;" title="(WBEZ/file)" /></div><p>Most of the Cambodians in Chicago came here as refugees in the years following 1975, when the brutal Khmer Rouge regime seized control of Cambodia. In that country, there began a four-year reign of terror in which&nbsp;millions of Cambodians were killed.</p><p>Peter Jennings once told me about that place, &ldquo;So much suffering. Such a tortured history&hellip;&rdquo;</p><p>He also said, ``The Khmer Rouge are the most genocidal people on the face of the earth. These people are maniacs.&rdquo;</p><p>And so the people came here. With limited education, most Cambodian refugees sought jobs in factories, crafts and blue-collar service jobs. English as a second language and other educational programs helped Cambodians adjust to American life&mdash;but poverty remained a major problem, with 49 percent of Cambodians here living beneath the poverty line at the end of the 1990s.</p><p>There are only 5,000-some Cambodians in Chicago now and yet they&mdash;all of us&mdash;have a most amazing museum. Opened in 2004 and located at 2831 W. Lawrence Ave., the Cambodian American Heritage Museum is an example of how ambition, hope and perseverance can result in a miracle.</p><p>It took nearly three decades for this place to become a reality, but the efforts have been worth it. The museum&#39;s centerpiece is a gathering of 80 glass walls of varying heights that constitute the Killing Fields Memorial. Each holds names, etched into the glass are the names of Illinois Cambodians&#39; relatives who died during the nightmarish regime of the Khmer Rouge.</p><p>It is estimated that as many as 3 million people perished as a result of starvation, torture or execution in a country that has yet to fully recover.</p><p>The glass panels comprise the first such memorial in the U.S. and, like the &quot;The Wall,&quot; as the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. is commonly called, it is emotionally overwhelming in its simple presentation, which includes a stone column with the words &quot;We continue our journey with compassion, understanding and wisdom.&quot;</p><p>It shouldn&#39;t be surprising that nearly 70 percent of the $1.5 million raised for the project came from our Jewish community, which knows a great deal about inhumanity and horror and losing loved ones.</p><p>Leon Lim, the chairman of the museum, calls the museum &quot;A place to educate, to heal and to celebrate.&quot;</p><p>He looks at names etched into one of the glass walls. On the top row on the right are the names of nearly two dozen of his own relatives and friends. Though the Killing Fields Memorial, and some related exhibits, evoke deadly times, there is life aplenty in the museum in the form of literacy classes, cultural programs, language classes and other building blocks for a hopeful future in this foreign land.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 13 Nov 2012 12:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-11/leaving-cambodia-103843 Cambodian genocide survivors gain new voice in Chicago exhibit http://www.wbez.org/story/cambodian-genocide-survivors-gain-new-voice-exhibit-92274 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-21/RS-cambodia.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-21/RS-cambodia.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 225px; float: left; margin: 5px;" title="Dary Mien is Executive Director of the Cambodian Association of Illinois and a genocide survivor. (Photos by Lynette Kalsnes)">A new exhibit at the <a href="http://cai.maaillinois.org/">Cambodian American Heritage Museum and Killing Fields Memorial</a> sent chills up Soung San’s spine.</p><p>“<a href="http://cai.maaillinois.org/events/remembering-killing-fields">Remembering the Killing Fields</a>” uses artifacts, images and oral histories to tell the stories of Cambodians now living in Illinois who survived the Khmer Rouge.</p><p>Soung San, who survived the first months of the brutal communist regime as a child, said the exhibit brings it all back. It leaves him with questions, like: Why could such a thing happen? Why us? Why our people?</p><p>Between 1975 and 1979, about two million Cambodians died from forced labor, starvation, disease, torture and murder. The Khmer Rouge targeted the military, intellectuals, doctors and artists.</p><p>Yet Bun San, Soung San’s father, laments that even today, people in the U.S. still aren’t aware of how many people died in Cambodia. He saw people rounded up door to door and then shot, and the Khmer Rouge firing upon entire military units, leaving only three survivors.</p><p>“I saw a lot of dead bodies on the street, especially on the rice fields,” Bun San said.</p><p>The San family was forced from its home with little more than the clothes they wore. Soung San said family members count themselves among “the lucky” because they found safety in a refugee camp across the border in Thailand. But their dangerous escape had been difficult to manage. In the early days of the Khmer Rouge takeover, the border was left open. But Soung San said shortly after his family and others escaped, the Khmer Rouge closed it like a cage.</p><p>You can hear their story: <span class="filefield_audio_insert_player" href="/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-september/2011-09-21/cambodia-web.mp3" id="filefield_audio_insert_player-116719" player="null">cambodia for web.mp3</span></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-21/RS4320_cambodian exhibit 016-scr.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 375px; margin: 5px;" title="The new exhibit includes artifacts and oral histories from survivors."></p><p>An entire nation of people was not as fortunate. That’s why the Cambodian American Heritage Museum says it’s so essential to capture these stories.</p><p>“Yes, we’ve lost so much, we need to continue on, and we need to rebuild what has been the culture that was almost wiped out and forgotten,” said Dary Mien, who’s executive director of the museum as well as the Cambodian Association of Illinois.</p><p>They’ve been working with Northern Illinois University for five years to gather oral histories of genocide survivors, some of which are contained in the Killing Fields exhibit.</p><p>The Cambodian community in Illinois wanted to provide a voice to survivors and share their experience with dignity, as well as to increase dialogue between generations, Mien said.</p><p>“The older generation normally doesn’t like to share information relating to the genocide,” Mien said. “We tend to try to really look ahead and move ahead. Some of the younger generation, especially those who were born here…it’s hard for them to understand why we left the country and why we decided to make the journey to resettle here in different countries.</p><p>“For ­­­the younger generation, I can feel it’s frustrating,” Mien said. “They want to have a little bit more of a sense of why we are here and why the community has such a mentality, why does my community do the things they do.”</p><p>She said these questions linger as each generation becomes more successful and assimilates more; they’re looking back for a sense of identity.</p><p>“To really have that dialogue is so important,” Mien said. “It’s no good the way we’ve been doing it before, keeping it very silent.” Mien has her own survival tale.</p><p>She was only 6 or so when the Khmer Rouge took power in 1975. She’s not entirely sure of her age — the Khmer Rouge forced people to destroy birth certificates, marriage licenses, even school certificates, because the regime wanted to erase any sense of identity.</p><p>“If you were caught with any kind of documentation, it was very unfortunate,” Mien said. “You could be taken into the backyard and executed.”</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-21/RS4318_alt_17.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 147px; float: right; margin: 5px;" title="Cambodians made their own shoes out of tires during the genocide.">When the Khmer Rouge evacuated people from the cities, they separated families. Mien said her baby sister died immediately from lack of milk. She lost an aunt, uncle and cousins. Her mother was forced to dig ditches, while her father worked elsewhere on vehicles. Mien said she spent the mornings being indoctrinated in school, and the afternoons picking up cow dung. Children were rarely allowed to see their families.</p><p>After the Khmer Rouge lost power, she remembers the journey back to Phnom Penh. Landmines were everywhere. She said she could see corpses on both sides of the road, and wondered about the places she couldn’t see.</p><p>“Now I know why they described it as a ghost city,” she said, adding there were empty buildings with nothing much left inside but piles of clothing, mattresses and garbage.</p><p>Her family left about a year later for the refugee camps, then came to America in 1980.</p><p>Mien emphasized that, relatively speaking, her story is not that important. She said there are so many survivors who faced much greater difficulties; she knows people who lost their entire families, who saw their parents killed in front of them.</p><p>“Sometimes I feel so guilty, my parents are still with me … to some of my friends, I don’t know what to say, it’s such a loss, I can’t even say, ‘I know, I understand’,” Mien said.</p><p><strong>At the "Remembering the Killing Fields" exhibit</strong></p><p>The exhibit gives some sense of the scale of that loss through photographs and oral histories. Survivors’ tales are interspersed with chilling images, such as a cot at the infamous S-21 prison. Only about a dozen people survived their stay at the torture center.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-21/RS4323_alt_20.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 397px; float: right; margin: 5px;" title="Hoes like this one were used as both farm implements and killing tools.">During a recent tour museum, librarian Kaoru Watanabe held up a pair of pliers of the type that were used to pull out people’s fingernails or teeth. She motioned to a hoe that doubled as a farm implement and a killing device.</p><p>In one corner, there’s a large silver vat. Watanabe pointed to a small can about the size of a Campbell’s soup container. That’s how much rice went into the vat to feed a large group of people.&nbsp; She said a serving of the watery porridge might only contain a few grains of rice, and starvation was a constant threat.</p><p>The exhibit empties into the Killing Fields memorial, a serene space filled with long, skinny glass columns that seem to float above the floor, etched with the names of those who died.</p><p>Mien said young Cambodians are going through the exhibit with gratitude that someone is finally sharing what the genocide and Cambodia were like. She hopes they’ll gain understanding of what their grandparents, parents or even older siblings have gone through.</p><p>For some of the older Cambodians, the topic is still too painful to revisit.</p><p>Watanabe said the museum staff tried to remain sensitive to that reality. They designed the exhibit almost like a box so people visiting the Association, which is both museum and social service agency, can come in without seeing the exhibit if they choose.</p><p>Mien hopes the exhibit has an impact far beyond the Cambodian community.</p><p>"This is something that should not ever happen again to anyone, to any being at all, that’s what is so important to us,” she said.</p><p>The exhibit is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and on weekends by appointment. Admission is free. The museum is at 2831 W. Lawrence Ave.</p><p>The museum encourages visitors to make reservations before attending the exhibit by calling (773) 980-4654 or by e-mailing <a href="mailto:anneth@cambodian-association.org">anneth@cambodian-association.org</a>. The museum tries to pair group tours with a genocide survivor, a young Cambodian-American and someone who worked on the exhibit.</p><p><strong><em>NOTE: Soung San performed the music played in this story. Anneth Houy from the Cambodian Association translated for Bun San.</em></strong></p></p> Wed, 21 Sep 2011 16:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/cambodian-genocide-survivors-gain-new-voice-exhibit-92274 Exhibit gives voice to Cambodian genocide survivors now living in Illinois http://www.wbez.org/content/exhibit-gives-voice-cambodian-genocide-survivors-now-living-illinois <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-20/SaveTheDate_fnl3_Printer_Version-page-001.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-21/RS-cambodia.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 225px; float: left; margin: 5px;" title="Dary Mien is Executive Director of the Cambodian Association of Illinois and a genocide survivor. (Photos by Lynette Kalsnes)">A new exhibit at the <a href="http://cai.maaillinois.org/">Cambodian American Heritage Museum and Killing Fields Memorial</a> sent chills up Soung San’s spine.</p><p>“<a href="http://cai.maaillinois.org/events/remembering-killing-fields">Remembering the Killing Fields</a>” uses artifacts, images and oral histories to tell the stories of Cambodians now living in Illinois who survived the Khmer Rouge.</p><p>Soung San, who survived the first months of the brutal communist regime as a child, said the exhibit brings it all back. It leaves him with questions, like: Why could such a thing happen? Why us? Why our people?</p><p>Between 1975 and 1979, about two million Cambodians died from forced labor, starvation, disease, torture and murder. The Khmer Rouge targeted the military, intellectuals, doctors and artists.</p><p>Yet Bun San, Soung San’s father, laments that even today, people in the U.S. still aren’t aware of how many people died in Cambodia. He saw people rounded up door to door and then shot, and the Khmer Rouge firing upon entire military units, leaving only three survivors.</p><p>“I saw a lot of dead bodies on the street, especially on the rice fields,” Bun San said.</p><p>The San family was forced from its home with little more than the clothes they wore. Soung San said family members count themselves among “the lucky” because they found safety in a refugee camp across the border in Thailand. But their dangerous escape had been difficult to manage. In the early days of the Khmer Rouge takeover, the border was left open. But Soung San said shortly after his family and others escaped, the Khmer Rouge closed it like a cage.</p><p>You can hear their story: <span class="filefield_audio_insert_player" href="/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-september/2011-09-21/cambodia-web.mp3" id="filefield_audio_insert_player-116719" player="null">cambodia for web.mp3</span></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-21/RS4320_cambodian%20exhibit%20016-scr_0.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 375px; margin: 5px;" title="The new exhibit includes artifacts and oral histories from survivors."></p><p>An entire nation of people was not as fortunate. That’s why the Cambodian American Heritage Museum says it’s so essential to capture these stories.</p><p>“Yes, we’ve lost so much, we need to continue on, and we need to rebuild what has been the culture that was almost wiped out and forgotten,” said Dary Mien, who’s executive director of the museum as well as the Cambodian Association of Illinois.</p><p>They’ve been working with Northern Illinois University for five years to gather oral histories of genocide survivors, some of which are contained in the Killing Fields exhibit.</p><p>The Cambodian community in Illinois wanted to provide a voice to survivors and share their experience with dignity, as well as to increase dialogue between generations, Mien said.</p><p>“The older generation normally doesn’t like to share information relating to the genocide,” Mien said. “We tend to try to really look ahead and move ahead. Some of the younger generation, especially those who were born here…it’s hard for them to understand why we left the country and why we decided to make the journey to resettle here in different countries.</p><p>“For ­­­the younger generation, I can feel it’s frustrating,” Mien said. “They want to have a little bit more of a sense of why we are here and why the community has such a mentality, why does my community do the things they do.”</p><p>She said these questions linger as each generation becomes more successful and assimilates more; they’re looking back for a sense of identity.</p><p>“To really have that dialogue is so important,” Mien said. “It’s no good the way we’ve been doing it before, keeping it very silent.” Mien has her own survival tale.</p><p>She was only 6 or so when the Khmer Rouge took power in 1975. She’s not entirely sure of her age — the Khmer Rouge forced people to destroy birth certificates, marriage licenses, even school certificates, because the regime wanted to erase any sense of identity.</p><p>“If you were caught with any kind of documentation, it was very unfortunate,” Mien said. “You could be taken into the backyard and executed.”</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-21/RS4318_alt_17.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 147px; float: right; margin: 5px;" title="Cambodians made their own shoes out of tires during the genocide.">When the Khmer Rouge evacuated people from the cities, they separated families. Mien said her baby sister died immediately from lack of milk. She lost an aunt, uncle and cousins. Her mother was forced to dig ditches, while her father worked elsewhere on vehicles. Mien said she spent the mornings being indoctrinated in school, and the afternoons picking up cow dung. Children were rarely allowed to see their families.</p><p>After the Khmer Rouge lost power, she remembers the journey back to Phnom Penh. Landmines were everywhere. She said she could see corpses on both sides of the road, and wondered about the places she couldn’t see.</p><p>“Now I know why they described it as a ghost city,” she said, adding there were empty buildings with nothing much left inside but piles of clothing, mattresses and garbage.</p><p>Her family left about a year later for the refugee camps, then came to America in 1980.</p><p>Mien emphasized that, relatively speaking, her story is not that important. She said there are so many survivors who faced much greater difficulties; she knows people who lost their entire families, who saw their parents killed in front of them.</p><p>“Sometimes I feel so guilty, my parents are still with me … to some of my friends, I don’t know what to say, it’s such a loss, I can’t even say, ‘I know, I understand’,” Mien said.</p><p><strong>At the "Remembering the Killing Fields" exhibit</strong></p><p>The exhibit gives some sense of the scale of that loss through photographs and oral histories. Survivors’ tales are interspersed with chilling images, such as a cot at the infamous S-21 prison. Only about a dozen people survived their stay at the torture center.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-21/RS4323_alt_20.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 397px; float: right; margin: 5px;" title="Hoes like this one were used as both farm implements and killing tools.">During a recent tour museum, librarian Kaoru Watanabe held up a pair of pliers of the type that were used to pull out people’s fingernails or teeth. She motioned to a hoe that doubled as a farm implement and a killing device.</p><p>In one corner, there’s a large silver vat. Watanabe pointed to a small can about the size of a Campbell’s soup container. That’s how much rice went into the vat to feed a large group of people.&nbsp; She said a serving of the watery porridge might only contain a few grains of rice, and starvation was a constant threat.</p><p>The exhibit empties into the Killing Fields memorial, a serene space filled with long, skinny glass columns that seem to float above the floor, etched with the names of those who died.</p><p>Mien said young Cambodians are going through the exhibit with gratitude that someone is finally sharing what the genocide and Cambodia were like. She hopes they’ll gain understanding of what their grandparents, parents or even older siblings have gone through.</p><p>For some of the older Cambodians, the topic is still too painful to revisit.</p><p>Watanabe said the museum staff tried to remain sensitive to that reality. They designed the exhibit almost like a box so people visiting the Association, which is both museum and social service agency, can come in without seeing the exhibit if they choose.</p><p>Mien hopes the exhibit has an impact far beyond the Cambodian community.</p><p>"This is something that should not ever happen again to anyone, to any being at all, that’s what is so important to us,” she said.</p><p>The exhibit is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and on weekends by appointment. Admission is free. The museum is at 2831 W. Lawrence Ave.</p><p>The museum encourages visitors to make reservations before attending the exhibit by calling (773) 980-4654 or by e-mailing <a href="mailto:anneth@cambodian-association.org">anneth@cambodian-association.org</a>. The museum tries to pair group tours with a genocide survivor, a young Cambodian-American and someone who worked on the exhibit.</p><p><strong><em>NOTE: Soung San performed the music played in this story. Anneth Houy from the Cambodian Association translated for Bun San.</em></strong></p></p> Wed, 21 Sep 2011 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/exhibit-gives-voice-cambodian-genocide-survivors-now-living-illinois Cambodian arts nearly destroyed by a genocide find new life in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/story/actor/cambodian-arts-nearly-destroyed-genocide-find-new-life-chicago <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/cambodian 006.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Cambodian-Americans in Chicago are determined to keep their art and culture alive in this new country. What makes their dedication so fierce is that a genocide nearly succeeded in wiping out all of the artists.</p><div>Several men sit on a mat in a computer lab at the Cambodian Association of Illinois. They play wooden instruments that resemble crocodiles, and a two-stringed fiddle that looks like a tin can attached to an ax handle.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Cambodians have been meeting like this in Chicago to learn traditional music, language and dance for nearly 20 years.</div><div><strong>&nbsp;</strong></div><div>Soung San, a master musician who&rsquo;s their teacher, said they won&rsquo;t let the genocide silence their music.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;This is an indication that we were stronger than them, being the Pol Pot,&quot; San said. &quot;No matter what they do, we still survive, and we will keep it like that forever. Whenever, wherever, there will be a time, there will be us. The Cambodians will survive.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, seized power in 1975. An estimated two million Cambodians died. They were killed either outright or died of disease, starvation and forced labor.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The genocide killed 90 percent of the artists.</div><div><strong>&nbsp;</strong></div><div>&quot;What we see is art literally disappears in Cambodia,&quot; said Charles Daas. &quot;If you&rsquo;re practicing art, then you risk death.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Daas is the former director of the Cambodian American Heritage Museum and Killing Fields Memorial. He said&nbsp; the Khmer Rouge wanted to create a communist utopia without money or schools or businesses. They brutally set out to destroy any sense of personal identity.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Everyone was going to be the same,&quot; he said. &quot;So for anyone who was wealthy, who was educated, who was an artist, who was religious, who had been involved in the government, who had been involved in the army, they were an immediate enemy of the Khmer Rouge. And they were actually the very first people to die.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>To survive, artists hid their professions.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Before the Khmer Rouge took power, Sareth Kong&rsquo;s mother was a main actor in the opera and her father, a master musician. She remembers singing while climbing trees as a child.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Then the music stopped.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Our family was pretty well known that we&rsquo;re artists in Battambang Province, and then when we escaped to the Moung Village, my parents changed their name, their first name, their last name, so to disguise themselves as an artist, and we would always declare that we do farming,&quot;&nbsp;Kong said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Her parents lost their instruments as well as their identity.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;It's very difficult, but you know, in order to survive, that's something we have to give up,&quot; she said.</div><p>Kong was 10. The Khmer Rouge separated her and her siblings from their parents and forced them into hard labor for three years. Then Kong and her family fled.</p><div>&nbsp;It was there in the refugee camps &nbsp;-- the most unlikely of places &ndash; where dance and music would return and flourish.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;There were few master artists who were still alive and able to escape to the Thailand border and the camp,&quot; Kong said. &quot;That&rsquo;s when they start recruitment and opened classes, to build a Cambodian community, during the camp.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Sareth Kong says this is where she and her future husband, Sarun Kong, both learned to dance.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It&rsquo;s also where Soung San, who&rsquo;s playing this music, heard traditional Cambodian songs for the first time.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;I felt like I was floating on air, I had no bones whatsoever, no skeleton whatsoever in my body, I felt like I was floating like a fish, floating in air in this case,&quot; San said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He says his jaw dropped.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;I asked my dad, please introduce me to music. I want to know more, I want to learn more, and so he did,&quot; San said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Before the war, his father, Bun San, had made musical instruments as a young monk. So he cut wood from a jackfruit tree and made his son his very first instrument.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Through the&nbsp; association&rsquo;s Anneth Houy, who translated all the Cambodian conversations, Bun San said: &quot;Before he left, he saw a lot of killings. It's hard to see that many people died. When so many people were killed in a certain country, what happened to their heritage? So it's important for the survivors to carry on to that culture.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>That&rsquo;s just what father and son did when they came to Chicago. They started teaching at the Cambodian Association along with the Kongs. They all became master musicians and dancers here in the U.S., and Bun San is recognized as a master instrument maker too.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>They&rsquo;re ensuring that Cambodian songs and dances, traditionally performed for temple rituals, weddings or before the royal court, live on.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Bun San started out by playing along to cassette tapes. But he wanted to get better and spread that knowledge to his son. San began traveling to other states and taking lessons from surviving masters.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;When I got those notes, I passed it along to my son, and he would continue learning from those notes, and now he knows more than me,&quot; San said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>On the second floor, over the museum, his son, Soung San, counted out the beat. Two girls stood by a row of computers, ready to jump in and sing. They belted out the song. An older girl made a face at them. Her sister socked her in the arm and kept singing.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In the basement, several teens learned stylized dance moves from Sareth Kong.&nbsp; Even though they&rsquo;re far from Cambodia, their heritage will always be part of them, and it&rsquo;s important to pass it on, Kong said. But there are challenges.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Younger generation now doesn&rsquo;t fully understand the Cambodian language, so to communicate certain hand or feet gestures, it&rsquo;s difficult for me,&quot; she said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>There&rsquo;s a generation gap, too, between survivors, their children and grandchildren.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The older generation emphasized that we learn English, that we fit in with the English-American society, so they don&rsquo;t really emphasize about the Cambodian society and the Cambodian culture,&quot; said Navi Thach, 20.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Thach said she&rsquo;s lucky. Her mother did talk about the importance of the temple and the rituals of music and dance.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Other youth, they kind of gradually go on in their own way, they become more involved in the modern society,&quot; she said. &quot;I really wish they would have this interest that I have for our culture because it really is unique, you won&rsquo;t see anything else like it. There really is nothing as unique and special as the Cambodian culture.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div> <div><span style="">Many in the Cambodian community share Thach&rsquo;s belief that passing down the culture is essential.</span> <span style="">When the Cambodian Association had to delay these classes and lay off some staff due to the economy recently, the community rallied.</span> <span style="">Parents pledged funding, and master musicians and dancers volunteered to teach for free.</span></div><div>&nbsp;</div> <div><span style="">They figure if they teach 100 students, and find one or two like Navi Thach, they&rsquo;ll have mentors for the next generation.</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><span style="">Lynette Kalsnes, WBEZ.</span></div><p><em>Master Soung San performs on a Roneat Ek, a Cambodian instrument that looks like a xylophone placed on top of an ornate wooden cradle. Different mallets give the instrument two very different sounds:<br /></em></p><p>&nbsp;<audio class="mediaelement-formatter-identified-1328076202-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-february/2011-02-09/roneat-ek-2-web.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></div><p><strong><br /></strong></p></p> Wed, 09 Feb 2011 18:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/actor/cambodian-arts-nearly-destroyed-genocide-find-new-life-chicago