"It is our duty to do what we can to influence the young generation and get them to have hopes and dreams, while providing the necessary resources and education."
Ronald (Ron) Ung, 28, was born in Long Beach California in 1988. His family left Cambodia in 1984 when his mother fled to the refugee camps along the Thai border. Her and her family later resettled in San Antonio, Texas where she later met his father, also a Cambodian refugee. They later settled down in Long Beach California where Ron was born.
Growing up in Long Beach was difficult economically, socially and culturally, for Ron, and many Cambodian refugee families. Discrimination, identity crisis, and living in a low income community where racial tensions converged created a ripe environment for Ron to feel lost and get caught up in the negativity.
Fortunately Ron met two people at the right time who would reshape his journey into something more positive and ignite his passion for helping others, ultimately leading him to move back to the motherland and help Cambodia's children.
Read Ron's journey below from feeling isolated and lost in the streets of Long Beach, to finding purpose in helping children in Cambodia.
" I am very happy to contribute in my own way to the development of this unrecognized and neglected heritage"
Borany Mam was born in 1985 in Poitiers, France. She was named after one of her father's younger sisters. Her father, who is Cambodian, left Phnom Penh three days before it fell under the control of the Khmer Rouge to go study in France. Her mother is of French origin. Growing up in France, talking about Cambodia was a taboo subject as it brought her father great pain with the loss of his family. It wasn't until a family trip back to Cambodia in 2000 that opened the door for Borany to learn and reconnect with her roots. Four years ago Borany made the move back to Cambodia with her parents and began the process of discovery, connection, and contribution.
Educated as as an artist specializing in art restoration, Borany founded Association pour la Sauvegarde de la Peinture Khmère (ASPK), an organization dedicated to helping the restoration of paintings at the National Museum of Cambodia. While she is contributing to the restoration of art there, she is also exploring exciting opportunities through the opening of a new restaurant and an upcoming clothing line.
Read Borany's story, from growing up in France and knowing little about Cambodia and her father's painful past, to fully reconnecting with the country and contributing in her own unique way.
"I want to contribute in my own way to the development and evolution of music in Cambodia."
Anthony (Tony) Keo, was born in Battambang, Cambodia in 1989 but left when he was two years old. He and his family immigrated to Montreal, Canada where he spent his childhood in the long Canadian winters.
Growing up in a poor neighborhood, Tony grew up speaking French, English and Khmer. Music has always been part of his life. He grew up listening to Khmer music around the house because of his parents. Although Tony was educated, trained and practiced law in Canada, one day he woke up and decided he wanted to make music, Khmer music. His trilingual roots has enabled him to write, produce, and sing music in English, French and Khmer--some which are cover songs, and others that are original songs.
Tony, and other similar artists, are part of a new generation of Khmer diaspora musicians fusing western sound, adapting it to the local audience and creating original music for a new generation of Khmer fans.
Read about Tony's journey from Battambang, to the cold winters of Montreal, to making hot music in Cambodia.