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USF Libraries Exhibits

Cambodian Refugees In Thailand

Sophal Leng Stagg, Cambodian Survivor

My family get out through—we escape to Thailand. First we escape to the border, and from the border our intention is to get out of Cambodia. So first we go to the border, and then eventually we go to the refugee camp in Thailand called Khao-I-Dang. And from there, there’s a lot of agency around the world are stationed there to help us. My brother put the application in, and we be picked to come to America after—I would say about ten month waiting in the refugee camp.

Very, very happy. Very—I would say I have—I always have a make-believe world of mine, like a dream, that I want to come to America because I heard my brother say so much nice thing about America in 1974 and when I was young. And from the picture he showed me, I always wanted to come to America. And so that—to come to America was like a ray of freedom, even though the Khmer Rouge no longer control us in the camp. But I still wanted to get as far away as possible that it would never happen to me again.