US-Cambodians will be give a chance to testify to their trauma under the Khmer Rouge and gain access to work by experts on the regime and Cambodian history during a daylong forum in Lowell, Mass., on Saturday.
“Shared Suffering, Shared Resilience,” organized by the Applied Social Research Institute of Cambodia, will focus on testimonials from first- and second-general survivors, scholarly work on the hybrid Khmer Rouge tribunal, history, films, and open dialogue between participants.
The forum “is the first step towards overcoming the long-term effects of the Khmer Rouge genocide,” said Nou Leakhena, found of the Applied Social Research Institute. Such forums help Cambodians “increase their sense of belonging to a supportive community [while] encouraging and supporting future projects.”
Teddy Yoshikami, director of program development for the institute, also stressed the importance of the forum.
Nov Leakhena’s research “ has found that almost all Cambodians, regardless of where they live or where they may be anywhere, they’ve been affected by the Khmer Rouge,” including both the first and second generations, she said. “Those effects are important to bring about and learn more about.”
Discussions allow people to share binding experiences, helping pass on lessons and understanding to children and leading to a “real healing process,” she said.
Created in affiliation with the Asian/Pacific/American Institute of New York University, the forum was first held in Long Beach, California, in March. It will open Saturday at the O’Leary Auditorium in Lowell, from 9 am to 7 pm, and will continue to other cities in the US.