The Stockton Cambodian Oral History Project was awarded a $10,000 grant by Cal Humanities to help with the Project’s ongoing mission of chronicling the stories of Cambodian refugees and the richness of their invaluable contributions to the Stockton community.
The Project was established last year to educate the community on the richly diverse and unique roles Cambodians have played in Stockton’s recent history, as well as the phenomenal contributions Cambodian-Americans have made to the city’s artistic, religious and cultural landscape. The Project is a collaboration of representatives from University of the Pacific, San Joaquin Delta College, The Record, the San Joaquin County Historical Society and Stagg High School, the Asian Pacific Self Development and Residential Association and the Wat Dharmararam Cambodian Buddhist temple.
“We are deeply honored to have received this award, especially from among so many profoundly worthy initiatives considered by Cal Humanities,” said project director Elizabeth Roberts. “So many in the community have tirelessly volunteered their time and expertise to bring this project to reality.
“The honor truly belongs to the extraordinary Cambodian people of Stockton,” she added. “To have suffered so greatly and gone on to contribute such an amazing historical, artistic, religious and cultural richness to Stockton is a gift we have made it our mission to make known to a wider Stockton audience. Our mission is not just to highlight the sufferings of their past but to show their remarkable strength, will and resilience – the affirmative, empowering, redemptive story of their history and their presence here.”
Stockton has the fifth-largest population of Cambodians in the nation and the second largest in California. One of the primary goals of the Project is to use the video and audio recordings of Cambodians to create a short documentary highlighting the Cambodian artistic traditions, especially where centered around the New Year’s celebration. When completed, it will be publicly screened and also made available on an ongoing basis to local high schools for presentation.
Another key aspect of the project is a comprehensive website featuring video, audio, photographs and text of the interviews we are collecting. The site also includes a social-media component through which local Cambodian artists can share their work and interact with the larger community.
Community Stories is a competitive grant program of Cal Humanities. Grants are awarded to projects that give expression to the extraordinary variety of histories and experiences of California’s places and people to ensure that the stories can be shared widely. These narratives help us find our commonalities, appreciate our differences, and learn something new about how to live well together. The grants were announced in late December.
“With our state’s incredible diversity, fostering communication and connecting people to a range of ideas is vital for our general welfare,” said Ralph Lewin, president and CEO of Cal Humanities. “Our grant award enables awardees to pursue the important work of engaging new audiences in conversations around stories of significance to Californians.”
Since 2003, Cal Humanities has supported approximately 400 story projects and granted over $2.6 million to enable communities to voice, record, and share histories—many previously untold or little known. Through video, photography, murals, zines, documentary theater, audio projects, and more, these collected stories have been shared with broad audiences, both live and virtual. Cal Humanities is an independent non-profit state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. For more information on Cal Humanities, please visit www.calhum.org.
For more information about the project, please visit www.stocktoncambodianoralhistoryproject.com, or see their three-minute explanatory video at http://vimeo.com/46557595. For more information about Cal Humanities, visit http://www.calhum.org/.