Humans of Khmer America

Manny Sok

“We took over 70 YMCA street children to the Cambodia National Museum, where statues of Cambodian mythology and artifacts are displayed. The museum was a great opportunity for the kids because I don’t think a lot of them really learn about cultural history here. For some of them growing up, they’re just familiar with the streets, and don’t know the actual history of how Cambodia came to be.

We also took them to the park and gave them a shirt that says “Khmer Loves Khmer.” After ice cream, it was onward to the Royal Palace.

In America, I would never dream to see something like the palace and for these kids to only be a block away from this and never experience it all their life-is amazing. I hope that they do take this opportunity to learn about the culture and see that Cambodians persevere; you never give up because you know how great it can be.

I think they would never dream to have the opportunity to go into one of these places. What we provided with the YMCA was just astounding. Giving them the opportunity to dream and see that some things are possible even with the way the world is here for them.

The kids were very respectful when we were at the palace pagodas. I didn’t expect this behavior because of how they were raised; but, for them to show that respect to the temple and to the country, was wonderful. We were handing them money and you know that they have probably never touched 5,000 Riel, which is over a dollar, in their hand. To see that, to donate and to feel blessed about it was remarkable. For a kid to be so happy about putting money into the donation bin was just a great moment.”

Manny Sok, 33
Pharmacy Technician, Anaheim, CA

Photo by Peter Phoeng

Interview by Lauren Imbrock

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