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Resilient refugee activists speak at Mills

Thursday, March 16, Mills will host the event, "Resilience of Cambodian Americans: A Story of Transformation and Hope In East Oakland," at 7 p.m. in the Student Union. The event will be an informative presentation of the journey and transformation of a Southeast Asian refugee community, highlighting its culture.

In the midst of war and political strife, many Cambodians fled their country and came to the United States to save their lives, according to sophomore Silvia Kim, Asian Pacific Islander Sisterhood Alliance co-president and an active member of Workers of Faith, the two organizations sponsoring the event.

In 1998, 200 mostly Mexican and Cambodian tenants and former tenants teamed with a group of Asian American activists to sue the owners of Oak Park, an apartment complex located in East Oakland's San Antonio neighborhood, said Kim. According to Kim, the lawsuit was brought because the "dilapidated apartments were barely livable and [were in] violation of human rights."

This event is a story of how people "used their resources and came together to build hope and transformation," Kim said, "and as students, I believe this is what we need to learn from."

Oak Park tenants will be present at the event tonight to speak about their experiences.

Kim said that she believes it is "important for folks to be exposed to what kinds of activism are out there in Oakland." APISA and WOF hope that this event will raise awareness about injustice and crime in Oakland, along with teaching about the hope that comes from social action.

"Events like this are helpful because they're tangible examples of how we can be a part of change," said Kim.