January 31, 2009

Cambodian Artists perform for Obama election's celebrations, Washington DC

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On January Sunday 18, 2009, two days before the historical inauguration of President Elect Obama, the Cambodian American artists (adults and students) of the temple of Silver Spring, MD, performed on the stage of the National Museum of the American Indian, one of the prestigious Museums of the Smithsonian Institution, located on the National Mall of Washington DC, a few hundred feet distanced from the United States Capitol.
It was a while I had not met the Cambodian artists of the DC area, some of them I had already photographed in 2008 at the temple of Silver Spring, MD, during Khmer New Year. Their performance at the Museum of the American Indian was part of a folkloric festival, one of the many festivities and events organized in the week before the inauguration of Barack Obama. Two days after these pictures were shot, America ended eight years of Bush administration and started a new era with the first ever African American president of its history…

January 13, 2009

Chamroeun's Garage in NE, Washington DC

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Chamrœun Muy was born in Cambodia in 1957. In 1975, he fled to the United States with most of his family and relatives. They settled in Pennsylvania where Chamrœun received his high school education. When he graduated, he enlisted in the US Army as a soldier and then in the US Navy as an electronic tecchnician.
In 1990, Chamroeun resigned from his position with the Navy to open a business in Northeast Washington DC, where he repairs cars and rents taxi cabs. His wife Evelyn Ruiz (who was born in the Philippines) has quit her job to help him…

In the current economic turmoil, Chamrœun and Evelyn Muy believe they can still make ends meet. They don’t have employees at their garage and they have “an old customer base”, having been established in the area for nearly 20 years now. Even if they claim not to be very rich, all their years of hard work has paid off. They own their house in Forest Heights, Maryland, they cover their business’s expenses and they give Sarah, their only daughter, the quality of life she deserves.

On January 7, 2009, I spent a few hours at the garage of Chamrœun and Evelyn Muy. We talked about how they can pull through in such hard economic times… Chamrœun’s older brother, Phon, a Cambodian who lives in France, was at the garage that day. He was visiting his brother, following the death of their mother, who had recently passed away in Pennsylvania.

January 12, 2009

Makkara's Sushi in Ann Arbor, Michigan

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On Christmas 2008, under snow and freezing temperatures, I spent one week in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in the Detroit area, home of the 3 wounded big American Car AutoMakers. Unlike California, Massachussets, Minnesota or the Washington DC area, that host big concentrations of Cambodian Americans, there are just a few families with Cambodian origins living in Michigan...
In Ann Arbor I have met Alexander Ju, 44 years old. He was born in Cambodia and left the country in 1979 for the United States. When he arrived, he first lived in Norwalk, California, not far from Long Beach, where the biggest Cambodian-American community lives, with 50 000 people. Alexander went to high-school and college, got his degree and started working as a business and transportation teacher...

In 1996, Alexander had to moved to Michigan where his wife Dorasy pursued her studies (PhD) at the University of Michigan. She now teaches Anthropolgy and Social Studies. Alexander started a business of Japanese food: "Makkara Sushi & Noodles". Today, in the turmoil of the economic slow-down, after 13 years of activity, Makkara's business's still there, catering and delivering to more than 14 shops and locations in Ann Arbor area, with the help of Sotharith, his brother in law...