May 21, 2007
By Maria Gallucci
Words, photographs and personal accounts all poignantly reveal the legacy of revolution in "Year Zero to 2006: Images and Histories from Post-Khmer Rouge Cambodia," on exhibit in Alden Library through May 31.
The exhibit, located with the Southeast Asia Collection on the library's first floor, is presented as part of the just-concluded International Week celebration. On loan from Lara Finkbeiner and Emma Nolan-Abrahamian, both undergraduate students at the University of Michigan, the exhibit includes 28 photographs with attached text. The collection documents the tragedy of the Khmer Rouge revolution and its far-reaching effects on society.
"(The students) wanted, through the works of the exhibit, to educate their peers," said Jeffrey Shane, a Southeast Asia reference librarian for Ohio University Libraries. "We as educators have a responsibility to help people understand the things they might not otherwise be exposed to."
The two students spent three months in Cambodia interviewing and photographing survivors from this era with the aid of the Documentation Center of Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge revolution from 1975 to 1979 claimed the lives of one in five Cambodians and is one of the country's most important chapters in history, Shane said.
At the opening reception last week, international students from Cambodia shared their personal stories of life after Khmer Rouge. Im Sothearith, a doctoral student in Telecommunications, and Sopheap Phan, a graduate student in Southeast Asian Studies, are survivors of the regime and were forced as children to work in labor camps. Virak Kruy and Sok Udom Deth, graduate students in Southeast Asian Studies, were both born after the Khmer Rouge regime ended and shared their parents' experiences. All students spoke of personal loss and the lasting impacts of the Cambodian genocide.
"The significance of the (reception) and our Cambodian students sharing their stories is that during the Khmer Rouge regime, anyone with a college education was executed," said Karla Schneider, assistant director of the Center for International Studies. "That these students are here pursuing degrees, despite unspeakable hardships several have overcome, speaks volumes."
Ohio University always will be a destination for people from Cambodia working toward a degree in higher education, believes Drew McDaniel, interim director of the Center International Studies. Through exhibits such as these and collaborations with Cambodian universities, Ohio University can strive to be part of the Cambodia's national reconciliation and healing process.
The exhibit also includes a narrated DVD slideshow featuring additional images and interviews with survivors of the revolution. It is hosted by the Center for International Collections, the Center for Southeast Asian Studies and the International Student Union.