Thursday, September 09, 2010

Happy BD from Dr. Seang

September 2nd 2010

Dear Dan,

I miss your BD this year. I thought you could join us and Sakona this year, but the time was not worked out. However, it will always be next year to look forward to. You have always been very special to me and to my family. I always thinking of you and though I can’t be with you this special day I would like to send you a brief note to wish you a wonderful day and to remind you and myself how special you were and still are.

This year Sakara has given me everything I have asked for. She has made me so proud and I just can’t stop bragging about her. One of the things that she does that touches my heart very deeply is playing tro Khmer. It may not be that important to others but to me it is so very special. She is learning another new song this summer and as soon as she masters the song I will post it in youtube along with her other songs. This new song is harder and is going to take her a bit more times.

I would like to share one of her writings with you this past school year. She watched the “Don’t Forget the Khmer” by PBS right before the trip to Cambodia and she used it for her school essay. Her writing got nominated to be published but not quite enough to win. This is the introduction of her paper.


Sakara Seng
The Rhetoric and Politics of Satire
Lee Konstantinou
Researched Based Analysis Final
4 June 2010

Khmer-American
His voice sounded vaguely familiar. Distorted a little, but there was something about it. I listened to the voice-over harder, paying less attention to the PBS video footage and more to the narrator’s voice. His heavily accented English described the painful work day in the Khmer Rouge labor camps: “we begin work at four o’ five o’clock in the a.m. and we stop working at eleven and we begin to work afternoon from one o’clock p.m. to five o’ six p.m. and during the night we work also from seven p.m. to ten o’ sometime eleven pm,” the voice said in halting and hesitant English. Abruptly, the documentary video flipped from rare footage of the Cambodian agrarian camps to a familiar face – one I’ve seen a number of times in family photo albums.

Ba? Dad?
There he was. Talking to a journalist with an accent stronger than he has now, but unmistakably his. Ba’s face is younger – smoother skin, longer blacker hair. But same frown lines. It was surreal to see video footage of him, twenty something years old in the UNHCR refugee camp in Thailand, fresh out of three years and eight months in “one of the most barbaric social revolutions in history” (video). Ba’s interview finished and the PBS documentary continued sharing footage of the refugee camp and the status of the Khmer people. I watched especially close, to see if I could catch him in the background somewhere. He showed up five more times, in person and in voice-overs.

“All my family. I have twenty-four members. And all were dead because they didn’t have enough rice to eat,” he said.

“Most people feel very sad. Like me. I don’t know how is my future. How will I stay. Because in here, we cannot stay for many years.”

This dad I was watching didn’t know what the future held for him. He didn’t know that he would befriend an American doctor who would help him get into the John A. Burns medical school in Hawaii. He didn’t know he would graduate, and establish himself as a county family physician in Modesto, CA. Nor did he know his son would become an emergency medicine doctor or that his other son would attend the same medical school as he. He didn’t know his future daughter would be quoting the words he spoke to the journalist as a Khmer refugee in 1980 Thailand.


I highlight American doctor in green and I hope you know who that person is.

Thank you Daniel and have a very happy BD.


Seang

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1 Comments:

At 12:16 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

That brought tears to my eyes, knowing Daniel and all the lives he touhes everyday!

 

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