Our First Community Exhibition: Determination- A Cambodian Experience

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Story by Jeff Kenyon:

A photo show portraying various aspects of life in Cambodia will take place at the Little Compton Historical Society, 548 West Main Road (Route 77) on November 16, 20, and 27-30 from 9 AM to 4 PM.  An artist reception and book signing will be held on Sunday, November 18, from 3 to 5 PM.  The exhibit and the opening are free and open to the public.


The show, Determination:  A Cambodian Experience, is taken from the title of a book written by Makna Men recounting his family’s journey in escaping from Cambodia during the horrific reign of Pol Pot, and their life in Rhode Island.  Makna arrived in Rhode Island in 1982, with his mother and four brothers, from refugee camps in Thailand and the Philippines.  A graduate of Central High School and Rhode Island College, he earned Master’s degrees from Cambridge College and Brown University.  Currently the senior academic advisor at Bristol Community College, Fall River, Makna, his wife, Samoutta Iem, and their three children reside in Cranston.


DON NGUON arrived in Rhode Island in 1981.  He graduated from Classical High School and graduated at the top of his class from the University of Rhode Island’s College of Engineering.  Don currently works in mechanical engineering in West Bridgewater, MA.  He and his wife Pov Ky live in Providence.  Don is active in documenting cultural events in the local Cambodian community and in using his engineering expertise to design buildings at a local Buddhist temple. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of Water for Cambodia.

JEFF KENYON, who grew up in Providence, holds a B.A. degree from the University of Rhode Island and Master’s degrees from Providence College and Rhode Island College.  He has also studied ESL, photography, and Asian Studies at PC.  Jeff became active with the Khmer community while working at Rhode Island College in federal programs for high school students.  He was introduced to Maha Ghosananda, founder of the first Khmer Buddhist temple in Providence, Wat Thormikaram on Hanover Street.  This meeting served as the genesis of his Buddhist studies.  A longtime member of the Board of Directors of the Middletown Rotary Club’s Water for Cambodia, Jeff has followed his interest in street photography both locally and on the streets of Siem Reap and Battambang, Cambodia.   He and his wife, Beryl, live in Little Compton.

Both Makna Men and Don Nguon have returned many times to Cambodia to find relatives separated by the Cambodian Holocaust and to spend time in their respective home villages.  They are active with Water for Cambodia in health and clean water projects that benefit villages throughout Cambodia.

For more information about the Water for Cambodia Project and NGO based in Siem Reap, Cambodia, please visit the web site at waterforcambodia,org.

The Little Compton Historical Society welcomes this community exhibition created by private individuals as the first to use its exhibit space during the winter season. Artists or non-profit organizations interested in exhibiting in the space should contact the Executive Director Marjory O’Toole at 401-635-4035.