first photographs

Relationship: Child of im/migrant

These are photographs of my parents, my uncle and my grandpa when they were coming to the United States. Aside from clothing, these were their first and only possessions they had when they came . These photographs symbolized for them an escape from death and entry into what the future.  
It was 1975. My parents didn’t know each other, but they were happy. Cambodia was modernizing and becoming more technologically advanced. Buildings went up, groovy rock and roll music livened up neighborhoods and commerce was flowing. However, this all ended once Pol Pot came into power and ruled over the land as dictator.  He made families walk to the countryside, he killed anyone who went against him, he starved the people, and he watched as families suffered. 
Most of my family experienced the Cambodian Genocide, commonly known as the Khmer Rouge. My parents met during this time and came to the United States together. My mother had sisters in Cambodia but took the initiative to leave in the hopes that she could get to the United States and become their sponsor. Escaping was not easy. They ran from bullets, looked out for land mines, watched people die and grieved at the thought of the possibility of not making it. When they made it to the States, they worked hard to make a living. My parents were given housing, learned English in high school while taking other courses, held odd jobs, and worked towards success. 

Place(s): Cambodia
Year: 1976

– Samantha

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant