Sharing Cambodian stories of survival

Sharing Cambodian stories of survival

Sheldon Good has compiled a series of survival stories from the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.  Photo contributed by Sheldon Good.

Sheldon Good has compiled a series of survival stories from the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Photo contributed by Sheldon Good.

Recent world history will soon be coming into clearer focus for Goshen College students when Sheldon Good, a senior, releases his Pinchpenny Press book, “Surviving the Khmer Rouge: Stories on the Struggle to Stay Alive,” this weekend.

Accounts of the impending tribunals and sentencing for Khmer Rouge leaders of the genocide in Cambodia in the late 1970s made world news headlines at CNN on Monday.

Good’s edited volume tells the stories of Cambodians who lived through the Khmer Rouge communist regime. Most stories in the book are gathered from host parents of Goshen College students from the spring 2007 Cambodia Study-Service Term.

The interviews detailed in the book sprung from an assignment given by Keith Graber Miller, Cambodia S.S.T. leader professor of Bible and religion. “Keith gave us this assignment the second week we were in Phnom Penh,” Good said. “Many of us were pretty intimidated to interview people about such a delicate subject.”

Graber Miller, in a foreword to the book, comments that Cambodians have adopted a “forget and forgive” attitude towards the events.

Relying on host siblings to translate for Khmer-speaking parents, Good said, that “many of our host siblings heard their parents’ survival stories for the first time through these interviews.”

“These are stories that need to be told, and heard,” Graber Miller said in his foreword. “For our host families and friends – and for all Cambodians – we hope for the authentic healing necessary to truly get on with living, out from under the oppressive shadow of the Khmer Rouge.”

Good hopes that this book can play a small part in the reconciliation process by allowing these survivors’ stories to be shared and encourages us all to look for our own stories of healing and reconciliation to share with our neighbors.

Contributors to the book include current Goshen College seniors Abigail Groff, Dirk Miller, Hillary Watson and Greg Yoder as well as 11 Goshen College 2008 alumni.

The book release will take place in the Koinonia Room at College Mennonite Church on Sunday at 6:00 p.m. Good and other S.S.T. participants will be available to sign copies of the book, which cost $5.

Written by Ben Noll

Senior Theater and Sociology double-major from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I am currently in my second semester working as Arts page editor for The Record. I enjoy reading, going to the movies, eating, watching Philadelphia and Penn State sports, and thinking about graduation. Please feel free to contact me with any questions, criticisms, or story ideas. All good art, including journalism, is about collaboration!

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