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STORIEs OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN ELDERS

This community-generated anthology is now available on our SOON shop! 

From the very beginning, SEAD has worked to collect and amplify the stories of our Southeast Asian diaspora community. When outside sources, however, ask us for our stories, they continually center our trauma, focusing on the war and the struggles we’ve experienced instead of our wholistic personhood. With this collection, our elders will be sharing their strength, their inner peace, and what brings them joy. 

This collection is for you. Whether you’re third generation or first, whether you speak your heritage language or want to learn -- we celebrate your identity and the resiliency of our people. We hope these stories of joy make you feel seen, heard, recognized, and held. Thank you to our story collection cohort, our artists, and our elders! Your words matter. 

Tek Y Chhor

Story written by Kimsean Selena Tieu

Tek Y Chhor was born in Chi Kraeng District in Siem Reap Province. He is the son of a Cambodian-born Chinese mother and Chinese-born father. He is the youngest of four siblings. His late sister, Cheng Lean Chhor, has also lived in Charlotte, NC. He is a husband and father to five children, four of whom are currently residing in the United States and one in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He is also a grandfather to five grand-children, four of whom currently reside in the United States and one in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He immigrated to the United States in 2002 and is currently happily living in Charlotte, NC with his wife and two of his children. During

his free time, he loves to do gardening work.

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The Process

Throughout the summer of 2023, community members came together to understand the process and power of story collection. Each member of the cohort then interviewed an elder in their family, using the stories and conversations to build this amazing collection. The stories have been illustrated by emerging artists from our community to honor the work and personhood of each elder. 

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Why This Work Matters

Almost 50 years ago, in the year 1975, droves of Southeast Asian refugees left the Mekong Delta, becoming members of a diaspora community. Sponsored by the Lutheran churches, thousands of these families ended up here in Minnesota. This collection honors our first generation elders that have settled and thrived, building their lives and raising their families away from their homelands.

The traditions, histories, and memories of these places, however, is not lost. All of it lives on and thrives within our elders. Each of their stories preserves and acknowledges the experiences and lives of our people, the history and legacy of our cultures.

Book Launch + GALA

Saturday, December 2nd, 2023
Public Functionary

1500 Jackson Street NE, Studio 144, Minneapolis 55413

Learn more about how you can celebrate the Knowing Our Joy anthology and Southeast Asian storytelling culture with community!

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