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Khmer Surin Get Support From US Group

Thai children look on during the 49th Surin Elephant Roundup in Surin, Thailand.

A group of US Cambodians has begun looking for ways to encourage an increase in interest of the Khmer language in the Thai province of Surin.

That province was once part of a wider Khmer empire that encompassed parts of modern-day Thailand and Vietnam.

On Saturday, the Supporting Khmer Surin Committee held its first meeting, after a visit by some of its member to the province earlier this year. Members discussed the need to promote Khmer language in the area and the challenges faced by the so-called Khmer Surin people.

“There are many Cambodians doing business across the borders, so it will be easy for them to communicate,” said Srey Ayuthyia, the committee’s vice president, from Los Angeles.

Srey Ayuthyia said he had met with a Buddhist monk who taught the Khmer language and a number of Khmer Surin who expressed their need for more support.

While some Khmer Surin can speak Khmer, few can write it, but the there is a program that started four years ago that Srey Ayuthyia said he strongly supported.

The Supporting Khmer Surin Committee was only recently created, but its founders say they have already raised some funds to help their cause.

“We are not alone,” said Eang Bunthan, president of committee. “We are united around the world. All Khmer overseas have come together as one voice to support Khmer Surin in teaching Khmer language and safeguarding Khmer culture.”