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Food, Dance and More at US Folklife Festival

2010 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington DC.
2010 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington DC.

Cambodian cultural groups are taking part in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington this week, in the 44th annual Folklife Festival.

Cambodians are among nearly 1,000 participants in the 10-day festival that represent 30 different Asian countries.
Local chefs prepared Indian and Vietnamese curries, Filipino rice dishes and Thai spring rolls.

“Today I made Phnom Penh noodle, nom banh-chok Kampot, fish amok and two tradition deserts,” said Sam-Oeun Tes, a fellow at the National Endowment for the Arts and a master dancer.

Celebrants demonstrated martial arts, handicrafts, children’s games and dance.

Suon Bun Rith, the cultural coordinator for Amrita Performing Arts in Phnom Penh and an organizer in the 2007 Folklife Festival, said he was impressed with student artists of the Cambodian Buddhist Society, among others, who performed onstage this year.

“They looked very professional, like real artists,” he said.

This year’s festival focused on Asian Pacific Americans specifically for the first time since its inception, Phil Tajitsu Nash, the program curator, told VOA Khmer.

“We want to look at the microcosm of our community that is here,” he said.

“We have 30 different Asian countries represented and 25 from Pacific Islander countries and regions represented. It is going to be a wonderful example of the Asia Pacific American experience from the past 400 years.”

Each day of the 10-day festival has a theme, from “Homes, Jobs and Dreams” to “Religious Diversity.”

The audiences and groups were both filled with young people, and what Mark Puryear, of the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, called, “people who are essentially American but are very much aware of their heritage and are trying to preserve their heritage.”