A ceremony at Mosqueda
Community Center in Fresno,
Calif., was held last week in support of
Cambodian teenagers in the US.
The Cambodian Reconciliation Committee, which held the
ceremony June 21 to mark its 8th anniversary, seeks to show students
the support they have in the community, said organizer Sopheaktra Nou.
The committee helps teens with behavioral problems get back
in school and offers family and individual counseling to identify underlying
So far, more than 200 graduates have been helped by the
committee, and the June 21 event honored 22 former drop-outs who later returned
to school and graduated, as well as 12 graduates from Duncan Poly Tech High,
one Fresno City College
graduate, and one California State University of Fresno graduate.
"We do this to thank both the students and their parents for the hard work
and effort of completing high school," Sopheaktra Nou said. "We
believe that the accomplishments of our Cambodian youths must be recognized by
the entire community, not just their families."
Dinny Kim, a Cambodian-American police officer, said young people who don't
complete high school face many more problems in later life than people who
"Parents neglected to pay attention to the child's needs for affection, refusal
of or failure to provide needed care, and permission of drug or alcohol use by
the child: this parental behavior can lead to the child's poor self-image,"
Dinny Kim said.
Fresno City Council Blong Xiong said he encouraged the youth to participate and
to ask for help.
"Don't be afraid, don't be shied," Xiong said. "I let them know
that we are here for them and that they are not alone. We've gone through the
same thing that they have, and we are here to support them because their
generation is very important."
"I hope the future Cambodian generation stays out of trouble," said
Tola Yang, a Cambodian-American deputy district attorney for Fresno County
said. "I want them to make sure that they keep their lives straight and
make sure they are doing well and not committing crimes."
Savy Yang, a radiation therapist and former Fresno high school student, said in the
neighborhoods where she grew up the main messages were clear.
"How do I get rich, or at least do well in life?"
she said. "An aspiration for every Cambodian-American is to do well, or at
least to be able to succeed or fail on his or her own steam, and to be able to
take care of their respective families and responsibilities."