Book Report on New Year Baby: The Lucky One

New Year Baby: The Lucky One

By Anuj Malhorta

Born in a Thai refugee camp on the Cambodian New Year, documentary filmmaker Socheata Poeuv was deemed by her family “the lucky one,” fated to good fortune. She never witnessed the brutal oppression and genocide under the Khmer Rouge but she knew that her parents had survived through the cruel and inhumane Khmer Rouge rule. Although living in Texas suburbs 25 years later (today), Socheata was impelled to confront and give a human face to her childhood shadows. She travels to Cambodia with her parents to unravel the mystery shrouding her family’s survival and eventual escape. When I compare the Cambodian-American experience to the Chinese-American I see some striking differences. The first and the most obvious is how they ended up here in America. While the Chinese came here in search for job and as sojourners, the Cambodian nationals came here to seek for asylum from the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. I can also imagine that because of this reason, the attitude of the Americans will also be more sympathetic towards the Cambodians.

I think it is really important to know your past and your roots in order to truly explore your identity. In this case, Socheata was curious about the history of her parents who sacrificed so much for “the lucky one”. Towards the end of the movie and from the interview, it was very noticeable that Socheata had new values for her parents and a much better understanding of her past. Even in the most touching scene in the film when Socheata asked a very innocent question from her father that if ceremonies were conducted for Socheata, the New Year Baby, the father completely broke down in tears. The horrendous carnage was being forgotten by the world and an added goal of the film was to document the bloody past of Cambodia.

Book Report on Binding Back to the Hawaiian Roots

Binding Back to the Hawaiian Roots

By Anuj Malhorta

Keo Woolford, a multi-disciplinary artist was born and raised in Hawaii and who began dancing hula in high school. Keo has won many awards including the honors of the best-selling album when Keo was a member of Hawaii boy-band called “BrownSkin”. Keo is also a prolific songwriter, having written many songs for BrownSkin and a number of other recording artists in Hawaii and Japan. I specially liked his story telling skills. Although a little odd in the beginning since this was my first attempt at story telling, Keo did a wonderful job. He delivered a hard-hitting performance poem that outlined his reasons for embracing his cultural heritage. As a direct quote from Keo, “Because I was adopted before I was born, there are issues of identity. It wasn’t till I left the Islands that I realized that there was a need to connect to culture and identity. This reconnects me, in stronger and deeper ways, with Hawaiian culture. You don’t know what you got until it’s gone”.

Going over one of his high school experience through story-telling, he mentions on the day of graduation when he was involved racially aggravated event when Keo and his friends beat-up a white boy. Obviously Keo regrets it to this day however this did get me thinking that even in a place like Hawaii which is known for its friendly population, racial discrimination does find its way through. Another important aspect of the performance (which I asked Keo in the Q&A) was the conflict of religion beliefs within Keo. The question being “Hula having to do with Hawaiian gods and goddesses but you are a Christian, is that conflicting in any sense?” Keo responded that he respects all religion and he that he overcame the fact of blending in two totally different religions within his performance. Although it takes him awhile to connect with his audience, but his strength being his dancing, his show delivers ample fusion of Hula and Hip-Hop.