Cambodia’s Past Shapes America’s Future – An Interview with Zaklin Phat

ZaklinMy grandmother talked about how peaceful life was before the genocide…
…after the Khmer Rouge, everything changed.

– Zaklin Phat

April 2014 Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month:
Remembering the Past toward Healing our Future

A six event commemorative film series featuring the stories of survivors and their children

Living Ubuntu, in collaboration with with Amnesty International – Irvine and six local academic institutions, presents a six-event commemorative film series featuring the stories of survivors and their children. April is Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month, and each film commemorates a genocide that started during April. Living Ubuntu provides education about global traumas as part of its mission to heal trauma in order to promote peace. All films are free and open to the public.

Below is an interview with Zaklin Phat who will be a featured speaker at the Cambodia genocide event.

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An Interview with Zaklin Phat

Birth Place: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Age:  21
Occupation:  Student, University of CA-Irvine
Major:  International Studies

Q:  Do you have any memories of life in Cambodia as a child?

A:   Actually, I only have happy memories of my childhood there.  I remember mostly playing hop-scotch and jumping rope with friends, and also teaching myself to ride a bike in alleyways and scraping up my hands and knees.  One of my favorite memories is of my birthdays.  My dad would always buy a piece of cake just for me, and we would spend time together,  just the two of us.

Q:  How were your school days?

A:   School there was very strict.   We had to have our hair pulled back and wear uniforms. Our skirts had to be at least knee-length.  The teachers used rulers or a metal stick to hit our hands or behinds if we didn’t do our homework, misbehaved or even if our fingernails were too long.

Q:   How did you come to live in the U.S.?

A:   When I was nine years old, my father asked my older sister and I if we wanted to come stay with an aunt and uncle who had moved here a year or two before.  Because I was so young, I thought at first he just meant to visit.  It wasn’t until I got here that I realized he meant for us to stay.  My sister came here with a relative, and then I came with my Godfather about a month later. Read more of this post