Cambodian Cultural Exhibit Opening in Oakland

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Tonight the public is invited to an opening reception of Rhythm of the Refugee: A Cambodian Journey of Healing at Oakland City Hall located at 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza from 4:30- 6 pm.

This exhibit on Cambodians in Oakland features Cambodian refugees and their children in their search for healing from the trauma of the Cambodian genocide through the recovery of music traditions that were nearly annihilated.

The exhibit introduces visitors to Cambodian culture and the political upheaval that occurred there in the 1970s. The exhibit features traditional Cambodian artists living and practicing their arts in Oakland today. Through practicing these arts and passing down traditions, Cambodians are healing from the trauma inflicted on them during the genocide. The exhibit features the Cambodian New Year celebration, where hundreds gathered in East Oakland to celebrate Cambodian cultural traditions in April 2011.

92-year-old Nhep Prok teaches a Cambodian class in Oakland. He learned  how to play traditional music as a youth in Cambodia and now serves as a cultural resource.

The exhibit also features young Cambodian-Americans, who are integrating their heritage into modern forms of expression, such as hip hop music and dancing.

The exhibit was conceived by members of the Cambodian Women’s Group as part of a larger program of community engagement to improve health and well-being. The exhibit was co-curated by Peralta Hacienda Historical House, Cambodian Community Development, Inc. and Community Health for Asian Americans, with support by a grant to Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Coconut dancers.

The exhibit will be on display at City Hall through the end of 2012.


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