Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Socheata is Echoing Green Fellow

Filmmaker Socheata Poeuv has been awarded a 2007 Echoing Green Fellowship - the $90,000 award over three years will support her work to document 10,000 Khmer Rouge survivor stories as interviewed by their children. 20 fellows were selected out of more than 900 international applicants. Socheata is still touring the globe with her outstanding documentary, New Year Baby. The Echoing Green website explains it as follows:

Echoing Green Fellow
Socheata Poeuv - Khmer Legacies
The Bold Idea: Uncovering and documenting the Khmer Rouge genocide through survivor testimony as the first initiative to bridge the communication divide in Cambodian-American families.

Decades after the brutal genocide, the Khmer Rouge atrocities continue to have a strong and debilitating impact on Cambodian-Americans. For example, over 60 percent suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and 50 percent are affected by major depression. Yet, there has not been any large-scale effort to provide closure for this community. A significant generational divide has resulted from the silence of these first generation survivors, as well as the lack of knowledge about the genocide imparted to their children. Khmer Legacies will empower young Cambodians to interview their own parents about their survival and disseminate these stories to educate the public about the genocide. They will work to normalize and remove the stigma from issues that survivors have been keeping silent for a generation. Through this process, they hope to transform the culture of denial and avoidance in Cambodian communities to one of acknowledgment and honor. In 2004, Socheata Poeuv started interviewing her family on videotape about their story of survival. What has evolved from her own personal journey is the creation of New Year Baby, a documentary film that helped her family heal. New Year Baby has won several awards, including Amnesty International’s “Movies That Matter” Award. A graduate from Smith College, Socheata worked in network news for four years while co-founding Broken English Productions to direct the creation of her film.

Moment of Obligation: What experiences led to the desire to start your own organization?
In 2006, I visited Long Beach, CA, home to the largest population of Cambodian Americans. I was there to introduce my documentary film, New Year Baby, and host an open forum about the legacy of the Khmer Rouge genocide. At the event, I heard over and over again from young people that their parents rarely talked about their experience of surviving. I understand first hand what it's like to have parents who are reluctant to share their story. When I made my documentary film about my family, I began to understand at a profound level their sacrifice and love for me. This is the gift I want to give to the Cambodian families.

Gall to Think Big: What has given you the ability to dream big and take on deeply entrenched problems in the world?
Most people in life are stuck on the small problems like sitting in traffic or having a leaky roof. I love to take small problems and extrapolate them into big ones. Like transforming the problem “my parents and I don’t understand each other” into the problem “Cambodian families lack bonding and connection.” Small problems can leave you inert; big problems call you forward to create a solution.

New and Untested: What’s innovative about your new idea for social change?
No other organization exists with a mandate of videotaping stories of the Cambodian genocide by having their children interview their parents. Khmer Legacies is neither therapy nor self-help development, but is based the belief that storytelling can take a culture of denial and avoidance in Cambodian communities and transform into one of acknowledgement and honor.

Echoing Green - how they make a difference: • Identify Visionaries: Through a highly competitive selection process, Echoing Green identifies talented yet unproven social entrepreneurs who are dedicated to addressing the root causes of social problems. • Invest in Innovation: Each year, we invest at least $1 million to help Echoing Green Fellows transform innovative ideas into action. By applying entrepreneurial principles to social sector investment, we help launch cutting-edge organizations that transform communities.

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