California State University, Long Beach

Show simple item record Keo, Chetra Pierce, Mark, interviewer 2023-01-05T23:56:24Z 2023-01-05T23:56:24Z 2023-01-05
dc.description <>SUBJECT BIO<> - Chetra Keo was a lycee student at the time of the Khmer Rouge takeover and had been planning on going to France to continue his studies. Keo was born in Phnom Penh to a middle class family. His father was a jeweler by trade but volunteered to teach reading and writing in adult education classes. Like many Cambodians, Keo and his family were very optimistic that the Khmer Rouge would bring peace. His father was rather well informed and kept abreast of political developments. Initially, he was somewhat supportive of the Khmer Rouge as a result of his respect for and friendship with Hou Youn (known later as one of the "Three Ghosts" of the Khmer Rouge leadership), with whom he worked in a provincial election. <p&gt;Keo's family was evacuated, like all the others in Phnom Penh, and joined the long line of refugees, pushing their automobile, which was laden with supplies and some belongings. They were headed to his father's birthplace in the countryside. Initially, the family stayed with relatives, but after his father and brother were taken away and killed, the family was sent to Takao Village, where a kindly Khmer Rouge woman took care of them. <p&gt;Eventually, they were given a piece of land to work and provided a bamboo hut. <p&gt;Note: There are few details about Keo's experiences during the Khmer Rouge years, nor his eventual escape and experiences in the US. <>TOPICS<> - family background; emphasis on education; family business; relationship with Hou Youn; communication; family life; and typical day in Keo's home life;Hou Youn; family environment; sisters help support family; family commitment to education; move to Phnom Penh; attends; Tuol Svey Prey school; curriculum; demonstrations; civil war; conditions in countryside; en_US
dc.description.abstract <>INTERVIEW DESCRIPTION<> - This is the second of five interviews conducted over a three month period with Chetra Keo, a friend of the interviewer. The interview was conducted in Keo's room, late at night. Despite both interviewer and narrator being tired, once the interview got going, both sprung to life. The purpose of this interviews was to clarify and elicit more details on some of the topics discussed in the first interview. The interviewer noted that his questions lacked the clarity of those asked in the first interview; that at times he didn't know how to phrase a particular question. Unfortunately, he notes that he didn't time the ending of each tape well, cutting off the narrator in the middle of a sentence. It should be noted that the segments in this interview tend to be rather long. 9/1/1989 en_US
dc.description.tableofcontents <>File: seclckeo3.mp3<> <>Audio Segments and Topics:<> <>(0:00-12:15)... Keo reviews his father's background. Born in the countryside, at Prey Veng, his father's only formal education was during four years as a monk, where he learned to read and write. Then he learned jeweler's skill, working with his brother for room and board. Chetra Keo and his siblings were uninterested in learning this skill and his father didn't push them. This was unusual in Cambodia, where children customarily learn parents' skills. His father placed more importance on education. Educated people were highly esteemed, and had better lives and easy jobs. While his father could open door of business whenever he liked, there were lots of headaches, and if he lost the business, he had no other skill. An educated person, by contrast, could find another job. In 1967-68 there was a great need for educated Cambodian people to hold government offices because the French were leaving. The government opened schools in Buddhist temples, and adults went at night to learn to read and write from volunteer teachers. Keo's father volunteered. Both his father and Keo were impressed by Hou Youn, who got a scholarship to study in France and earned tremendous respect when he returned. But at age eight, Keo never had an adult talk with Hou Youn. <>(12:15-30:53)... Keo recounts his parents lifestyles and their activities. In addition to making and selling jewelry, his father kept informed by listening to the radio and the few available newspapers. He was a content man who enjoyed Cambodian classical music, and supported and volunteered at temple because of his four years serving as a monk. Keo's mother was involved with her husband in the temple. As Buddhists, they had a home shrine where Keo's mother put flowers and candles for their angel and prayed during sickness or problems. Keo never saw parents fight or disagree. He was close to both of them but went to his mother with problems. As the youngest, Keo got much attention. He shared a room with his brothers, but Cambodian houses are not as compartmented as American ones. His sisters shared a room. The family ate lunch and dinner together. Because his mother worked with her husband, she did lunch and his sisters typically prepared dinner. His father liked conversation at the table, not serious, joking, and all could talk. Keo's brothers talked about events at school but not in detail. His father always listened but didn't advise his brothers what to do or not do. <><>File: seclckeo4.mp3<> <>(0:00-9:30)... Keo's father had difficulty adjusting to the loss of contact with Hou Youn and other political friends who had gone into the jungle during Sihanouk and Lon Nol time. The Sihanouk regime said Hou Youn disappeared. Although Keo's father lost hope and was discouraged, he was optimistic that Hou Youn was still alive and tried to reach him. Because of his diminished interest in making money, he almost lost the business, and Keo's mother was very unhappy. Thanks to their education, his sisters got jobs and helped support the family and carry on the family commitment to education. Keo's father was among the first of his extended family to move to Phnom Penh; most stayed on the farms. Most of Keo's relatives in the city were on his mother's side and were educated, Hou Young, among them. His mother was born fifteen minutes from Phnom Penh. <>(9:30-18:57)... Keo attended Tuol Svey Prey middle school (from sixth grade up) beginning in 1972. It was a new school, with brick and cement three-story buildings (five). The first year he was on second floor. Physically, the classrooms were like American ones, though they were not air conditioned. There were about thirty to forty students in a class. Keo studied Cambodian language and literature, chemistry, biology, general science, math (algebra), and foreign language. His family urged him to take French instead of English. Math was his favorite subject. The schools were changing to Khmer language at the time and he wanted to be good at Khmer, like his best friend. There was no physical punishment at Tuol Svey Prey. <>(18:57-30:54)... Keo never saw his teachers demonstrating; they may have been secretly involved but not openly. Most demonstrations took place three to four months before fall of Lon Nol. There was not enough activity at his school to worry government. His brothers were involved in protests against government corruption, demonstrating for three days and nights on campus. The teachers were unhappy because education not valued and they were not respected. Keo attended school until less than a month before the Khmer Rouge takeover. He felt that it was the wrong time, with impeding crisis. His brothers attended school mainly to avoid being drafted. If you were caught on the street without a student ID, you could be drafted. Students were not optimistic about learning; war was tearing country apart, and there was a lot of killing, and starvation in the countryside. Keo was aware of all this at his young age. <>End of tape.<> en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.rights This repository item may be used for classroom presentations, unpublished papers, and other educational, research, or scholarly use. Other uses, especially publication in any form, such as in dissertations, theses, articles, or web pages are not permitted without the express written permission of the individual collection's copyright holder(s). Please<a href=""> fill out this form</a> should you require permission to publish or distribute any content from this collection or if you need additional information or assistance in using these materials. en_US
dc.subject Cambodian Life Histories en_US
dc.subject Southeast Asian Communities en_US
dc.title Keo, Chetra (audio interview #2 of 5) en_US
dc.type Recording, oral en_US

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