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KLVH-CSOKHOM Interview Part 1

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Moderator: I'm not gonna be hard on you please. Moderator: Okay. Moderator: Um...Pa? Moderator: Can you say your name Moderator: for us and spell it? My name is Sokhom Chum. Moderator: Kay. How do you spell it? S-o-k-h-o-m That the first name. Last name, Chum. C-h-u-m Moderator: Okay. Moderator: Um, can you tell me, Moderator: a little bit about your family growing up? Moderator: About your dad and your mom... Moderator: And your brothers and sisters? Um. Well, it was kinda long time ago... so I don't know how much I can remember. So. Moderator: Well how many? Sokhom: I'm getting older a little bit so... Moderator: How many siblings did you have? Uh... there were six of us. Moderator: Six of you guys? Yeah. Moderator: Kay. Sokhom: Um... I'm the oldest one. And, right now there are... uh, five, five of us surviving. Yeah...uh...all my brothers and sisters Uh, the sur...surviving brothers and sisters Uh, live in Cambodia now. Moderator: Kay. Moderator: How many, how many brothers and how many sisters? Two sisters and uh...three brothers. Uh... yeah, two sisters, three brothers and me. So. So, six of us. So... Moderator: Kay. So, only two sisters and two brothers, uh, uh, still survive now. Moderator: Kay. Um...what was it like growing up? It was, um.... Moderator: What were your parents like? We were not a... We were not a...a rich family. We were not from a rich family. So we, just uh, we were just average. My dad was in the army. Moderator: What was his name? Uh...Chom Hien. Moderator: Chom Hien? Yeah. Moderator: How do you spell that? Sokhom: Well see in Cambodia you say the last name before the first name. So last name, Chom. Moderator: And Hien? Hien is uh... first name. Moderator: How do you spell that? H-i-e-n. Moderator: Kay. Moderator: What was he like? He was um... I didn't really know much about him because he was in the army and he, was transferred around the country a lot. So, I, I, I, I knew very little about my father. Cause I was young, then. Uh... he was moving around, in the country a lot. So from, station to station. Uh... most of time, he was transferred, to remote places. As I remember. Moderator: Hmm. And, my.... my mom, uh, went, to different station, different army posts, with him. Uh, frequently. Sss so... my childhood was spent in, with my grandparents. So... Sokhom: So uh... Moderator: So she went with him? Moderator: Whenever they got transferred? Yeah, she went with him, but sometimes, she didn't go. But, you know. Um, during our summer break, from school, she would take us to stay with him for a little while. Moderator: Your mom went? Yeah, my mom, took us children to stay with my father. In a army camp. Moderator: What was your mom like? She was a sweet lady. She was um..... uh, very disciplined. Uh... yeah, I love her very much. She was a, a pretty good mother. Moderator: So, did she have a job? Moderator: Or did she just stay at home? She just, uh, Moderator: Or..probably... Sokhom: She was just a housewife. Moderator: Okay. Moderator: So, um... But, we did some, uh, uh, farming also. You know. Not much, but just, we just did, very little farming while my father was away. Moderator: So your grandparents raised you mostly? Yeah. Moderator: On your mom or your dad's side? My mom's side. Moderator: Your mom's side? Sokhom: Yeah. Moderator: What were they like? My grandparents, they were, uh, they were, kind of poor. They not uh, you know, they were not well to do. Um, they were farmers. But they uh, uh, they were very disciplined too. So, they taught us how to, you know, live in a poor condition. To survive, the poor environment, you know. My grandparents, my grandfather, taught me how to plow the fields. To do the farming. Uh, my grandmother she was very protective. You know, of us. And she would, uh, when we went to play out in the river, or something, she would, she would always, uh, uh...she always, uh, watchful of us, you know? To protect us out of dangers and stuff. Moderator: So do you remember Moderator: like playing with your brothers and sisters and stuff? Yeah. Moderator: Do you remember your house and stuff? Yeah. Moderator: What was it like? That was good, that was uh, I would consider its a, a rather happy childhood. Uh, although we were not, you know, rich or anything. Moderator: Do you remember, like specific games you would play Moderator: with your brothers and sisters? Um, we would play hide and seek in the you know, sometime we play in the, moonlit night. We play hide and seek you know, go hide and seek, in the moonlit night. You know, you, in the moonlit night, its so bright and you could see, very far. And, but I guess, that's the best thing. You have to use your own strategy. You know, to hide, so. Moderator: So, um... Moderator: Did you go to school? Moderator: Or were you taught at home? Moderator: Or? Yeah, we, we went to school. Sokhom: We uh... Moderator: All your siblings went to school? Yeah. Moderator: Um, what was school like? Moderator: Did you, was it close by or, Moderator: was it far? Um, the school, I went to primary school. There was uh, the primary school is about, um, about two kilometers. Or um, maybe about, you know uh, one and half miles from our home. So we just walked, to the school. Moderator: What's the name of the village? Moderator: What's the name of the village? Moderator: That you.... Sokhom: The name of the village is, uh, Romeas Moderator: Romeas? Yeah. Moderator: Can you spell that? Uh, R-O-M-E-A-S. Moderator: Kay. Moderator: Was it a small village? It was not a very small village. It's a.... um, it's close to the town also. Yeah, its not very small village. Moderator: Close to the town... Sokhom: Yeah. Moderator: Like the bigger city? Yeah. Moderator: How is that relation to Phnom Penh? Moderator: Is that close by? Sokhom: Well, Phnom Penh is the, no not anywhere, close to Phnom Penh. Phnom Penh is the capitol city. Moderator: Okay. Sokhom: So this is, there's a you know provincial town, its called Kampong Chnang. Okay. Moderator: Kay. So, provincial town is the next big thing, after Phnom Penh right? Moderator: Kay. Sokhom: All the provincial town. Okay. And Kampong Chang is the provincial town, and the district where our home was uh, is called, Tuk Pot. Okay, the province, a province is divided into districts. And districts into a, uh, commune, commune into village. Its the lowest, uh, uh hierarchy of the administrative uh, you know, uh, geoography. So... Moderator: Okay. Moderator: So what was... So, that's Romeas, is not the, is not like, you know, a poor town. Its not like, a, a, two small a town. Its a... a village that is close to the... close to the... yeah, small town. But, its I, I would not consider its too small compared to other, uh, uh villages. In Cambodia. Other villages, you would not see a hospital. You would not see a a cinema. You know, you would not see a big market. But Romeas, has all that. Moderator: Kay. Sokhom: Yeah. Yeah, Romeas, Romeas, had uh, a cinema, had a huge marketplace. And has, had a, um... Okay, the primary school, from grade, uh, 1 through 7, okay? And about, half a mile from there, from the school, there's also what they call a, uh... It was like a secondary school also. But the secondary school was just they were just they just built it, uh, in 1968, 69, I believe, 68...67... yeah...67...68...69. Uh, there were only two grades in that school. At that secondary school. Of course, you know, its kinda little confusing if you thinking in terms of secondary school, in, here in America. You know, that, so its kinda, confusing. Moderator: Kay. Moderator: Um, what was school like? Moderator: for you? The school was good, was strict, at that time. In my time, the school was strict, you know, teacher were... So, you know, from here you can... If you're here, by American standards, you would say those teachers are you know, abusive teachers, abusive teachers. Yeah, they would beat, uh, you know? They were beating students and... I mean, could be all morning long. Moderator: What were, what subjects did you study? Moderator: Like how many, did you have like separate classes or Moderator: Was it all... Primary school isss more like, general education, so, you only have one teacher for all the subjects. You know? One teacher, teaches all the subjects. From grade 1 to grade 7. Of course, at my, in my time. They, we... the Cambodian Education system, was, uh, you know, uh modelled, the French system. So, the grade starts from, Kindergarten, right? Kindergarten is the 12th grade. Yeah. And then go down, 12th grade, 11th, 10, 9, 8, 7. Okay? And then there is a, an, a entry examination. Where you had to pass the examination in order to go to, uh, the secondary school. It's more like, examination into into, um... um.... uh, what you call here? Uh, after the grade school, uh, Junior High right? Junior High. More like that. But, you had to pass that examination. That examination, takes, like, uh, three days, somethin like that. It doesn't matter, how much, how smart you are, how, du...during the years. But, you, you fail that exam they said, you would not get into that. Of course, most of time, those who, you know, those who have done, very well, over there....during the years... you know, uh, will pass it. Yes. So, that's the school, at that time. Sokhom: Uh.... Moderator: Did you do well in school? I was an excellent student in school. Well, you know, I don't, I don't mean to brag about myself, but, I, but, but, uh, I mean, I'm proud that, I'm proud that achievement. Moderator: What was your favorite subject? My favorite subject was more like... literature, language. I was good in.... Most of the subjects. Except for, Chemistry as I remember. Moderator: You weren't good in Chemistry? Sokhom: Yeah but not... Moderator: Not too bad? Not too bad, it was just, average. So... Moderator: Did you have like, school friends? Friends? Yeah. Moderator: Friends at school? Sokhom: Yeah. Had lots of friends. Moderator: Yeah? Moderator: Do you have any memories Moderator: of like, times in school... or? Yeah, well... Times, in school, in class... In Cambodia, you know, we, uh, I don't know now, but, in my time, we, we, we, took uh, education very seriously. Because, jobs, is very difficult to..to get, without education. If you have good education, you, you can be somebody. Even if you, just, at school. I know that a lot of people that, were just, uh, you know, school, teachers. After they get their teacher's certification, you know? There also, there, people who had, who had uh, um.... daughters, or you know, just, line up for him. For that guy. You know, just want to marry that guy. Because the guy, you know, is somebody. So, we took it very serious...seriously, and I studied hard. And my friends, did the same. Of course they're some rich kids, you know, of course rich kids anywhere, just... Sometimes they, you know, they don't care, because they already rich. You know. Their families, their parents, are rich, so they don't need, much, you know, attention. In school, they don't need, the, you know, worry too much about education. But, most of us study hard, and you know. So um... Moderator: So you um, Sokhom: If you were good in school, You become popular. So that is like, you know, uh a striking, seems to me, from my perspective, from what I see, it seems different from, you know, school here. You know. You can be very popular, without, uh, making a grade A, Or, over there, you had to, make grade A in order for a girl to talk to you.

Video Details

Duration: 16 minutes and 45 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Khmer Legacies
Director: Socheata Poeuv
Views: 129
Posted by: khmer legacies on Feb 17, 2009

Part one of six an interview with a Cambodian genocide survivor, conducted by Khmer Legacies in Carrollton, TX on 10/22/07.

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