A Mock letter to a cousin in Cambodia in the 1970's, describing the immigrant experience in Australia

Essay by juicebox12High School, 10th gradeA+, March 2004

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Dear Cousin Samnang,

How have you been? I am so happy to hear you are alive. I tried to contact you, but 28 years is a long time, and so I feared the worst. You must have been one of the lucky people who managed to hide from the horrible regime, God must have blessed you. How is your family? Well, I hope. You must have really fought to survive back in Cambodia. Anyway, you would like to migrate to Australia, I hear! Well, I will tell you of my experience 28 years ago.

Getting out of Cambodia (or as they called it back then, Democratic Kampuchea) was the best decision I ever made. I could not take it anymore. It was only a matter of time before the Khmer Rouge found me, as I am almost positive I was high up on the list of important people to be assassinated.

Being the head of the foreign affairs in the Prince Norodom Sihanouk's Khmer Republic government meant that I was being hunted. It was 1975 when our government fell to the Khmer Rouge regime, thanks to the foolish General Lon Nol, who sent our weak armies to fight the North Vietnamese communists. He was relying on support from United States forces, but their help never came. Sihanouk had fled to China, where the Chinese had convinced him to create another government, with the Khmer Rouge dominating, supported by the North Vietnamese. The Khmer Rouge then took Phnom Penh and established Democratic Kampuchea.

It was just after the Khmer Rouge took Phnom Penh that they herded us off. They were opposed to all those who were skilled workers, teachers, and intellectually gifted. They even hated those who wore glasses to correct their vision. The guerillas who were...