Arn Chorn-Pond is the founder and spokesperson of Cambodian Living Arts, an organization that seeks to transform Cambodia through the arts. He has invited the NCASI team to meet him and stay with him at his Cambodian home! What an honor and a privilege to meet this incredible man. Here’s his story:
Born into a family of performers and musicians from Cambodia’s second-largest city, Battambang, Arn was sent to a children’s work camp after the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975. He escaped death by execution and starvation by playing his flute for the camp’s guards and later fled his captors when Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia in 1979. He managed to reach a refugee camp in Thailand where Peter Pond, a Lutheran minister and aid worker, befriended and adopted him in 1980.
Educated in the United States, attending Brown University and graduating Providence College, Arn began a series of community rebuilding projects and founded several organizations, including Children of War, Cambodian Volunteers for Community Development, and Peace Makers, a U.S.-based gang-intervention project for Southeast Asian youth. In the mid 1990s, Arn returned to Cambodia on a mission to find the legacy of his family that was involved in the Cambodian Opera, his music teacher from the time of the Khmer Rouge and the stars of his early childhood. On this trip the Cambodian Masters Performers Project, now Cambodian Living Arts.
You can see the documentary that was made about his work below: