Family photo

Relationship: Im/migrant
Shortly after our arrival, Fall 1979
Shortly after our arrival, Fall 1979

Many may not be familiar with the Cambodian genocide, even though it was relatively recent and resulted in the deaths of nearly 2 million people.

I am the youngest of 6 children. I was born in a prisoner camp outside Battambang, Cambodia, after the Khmer Rouge displaced my family from Phnom Penh. My two oldest siblings, at the ages of 9 and 10, were separated from our family and placed in a labor camp.  My mother and younger siblings remained together, and my father was sent off to work, but snuck back to visit our family during the night.  My grandmother walked between the camps to visit her two eldest grandchildren and ultimately, to deliver the message of our escape plan.  One night, my family escaped their respective camps, converged at our meeting point, and traveled through the jungle to Thailand.  My family and I arrived in the U.S. in October of 1979, through a refugee resettlement program run by Church World Service.    
Because we were given an opportunity to rebuild our lives here, my mother now has 11 grandchildren. Four of those are my children, and as they grow older, I want them to know their family history, and the struggle that was endured by their ancestors.
I am thankful to have had opportunities to pursue higher education. I have a master's of science degree from The Elms College in autism spectrum disorders. I work full time as a behavior specialist for BCArc and enjoy living in the Berkshires with my family.

Place(s): Cambodia
Year: 1979

– Sopheap Nhim

Relationship:  Im/migrant Im/migrant