Monday, October 24, 2005

"First They Killed My Father" Author will speak at SLCC.

By Quentin Wells
Globe Link - News
Issue: 10/21/05

Loung Ung, story teller, activist, writer, and survivor of the genocide of the Khmer Rouge in her native Cambodia will be the featured speaker in the Salt lake Community College 2005 Tanner Forum on Social Ethics. Her presentation will be presented November 9 at noon in the Grand Theater on South City Campus and will include a lecture drawn from her personal experiences and writings and a forum discussion.

At the age of 5, Ms. Ung and her family were forced to flee their home in
Phnom Penh by Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge army. To survive, the family split
up. Both of Ms. Ung's parents were later murdered and it was only years later, after the Khmer Rouge government was finally deposed, that she was reunited with her surviving siblings.

Her memoir of her family's incredible struggle through the genocidal agony of her homeland, "First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers," published by HarperCollins in 2000, is a national bestseller and recipient of the 2001 Asian/Pacific American Librariansl Association Award for Excelience in Adult Non-fiction Literature: Her second book, "Lucky Child," was published by HarperCollins in April 2005.

In 1975, Ung was the five-year-old child of a large, affluent family living in Phnom Penh, the cosmopolitan Cambodian capital. As extraordinarily well-educated Chinese-Cambodians, with the father a government agent, her family was in great danger when the Khmer Rouge took over the country and throughout Pol Pot's barbaric regime. Her parents' strength and her father's knowledge of Khmer Rouge ideology enabled the family to survive together for a while, posing as illiterate peasants, moving first between villages, and then from one work camp to another. The father was honest with the children, explaining dangers and how to avoid them, and this, along with clear sight, intelligence and the pragmatism of a young child, helped Ung to survive the war.

Her restrained, unsentimental account of the four years she spent surviving the regime before escaping with a brother to Thailand and eventually the United States is astonishing--not just because of the tragedies, but also because of the immense love for her family that Ung holds onto, no matter how she is brutalized. She describes the physical devastation she is surrounded by but always returns to her memories and hopes for those she loves. These remain with her as, one after another, both parents and two of her six siblings are murdered in the camps.

Ms. Ung has spoken widely to universities, schools, and corporations on Cambodia, child soldiers, women and war, domestic violence, and land mines. She has worked for the Vietnam Veterans' of America Foundation/s (VVAF) Campaign for a Landmine-Free World from 1997-2003. Ms. Ung continues to serve as National Spokesperson for the Campaign for a Landmine-Free World.

The Tanner Forum on Social Ethics brings nationally and internationally recognized speakers in the area of social ethics to Salt Lake Community College annually. The Tanner Forum enhances the College's mission as a community-based learning institution by providing opportunities
for students, faculty, staff and the wider community to come together for the thoughtful examination of critical issues in contemporary social ethics.

Previous Tanner Forum Lecturers include such distinguished scholars as Chris Hedges, Carolyn Merchant, Carlos E. Cortez and Stephen Lewis. The Tanner Forum on Social Ethics is funded by the O.c. Tanner Company, the entity that funds the Tanner Charitable Trust, and co-sponsored by the SLCC Fine Arts and Lectures Fee Committee.


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