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The Cambodian people have a rich history that began long before the creation of Cambodia Town, also known as Little Phnom Penh or Little Cambodia, in Long Beach. Cambodia Town is located on Anaheim Street between Atlantic and Junipero Avenue.
In the 1980s a large population of Cambodians moved to Long Beach due to the mass genocide of their people in 1975 where around two million were killed – a quarter of the population. As if the genocide wasn’t enough, in 1979 the Vietnamese invaded and occupied Cambodia. Between 1979 and 1986 about 130,000 Cambodians came to the U.S. as refugees to escape. Nearly 40,000 came to Long Beach.
Today, there are around 15,000 people of Cambodian decent in Long Beach, making it the largest concentration of Cambodians outside of Cambodia itself. Long Beach is also commonly referred to as the “Cambodia capital of the United States.”
During the 1980s when the majority of Cambodians came to Long Beach there was a huge language and cultural barrier between the natives of Long Beach and the Cambodian people. This prompted the school system to set in place ways to help assimilate the Cambodian students and bring awareness to the other students about what it’s like to not necessarily understand the native language and culture of the U.S.
Currently a “renaissance” of sorts is occurring within Cambodia Town’s youth. The younger generations are becoming more interested in who they are and where they came from, which is providing more room for cultural education through various means.
Cambodia Town Inc., a non-partisan and non-profit organization, seeks to “revitalize the neighborhood by attracting more businesses, visitors and tourists to the area,” according to their website. And they are doing just that.
Cambodia Town has enriched Long Beach with their culture by providing businesses, restaurants and even a film festival. Their annual film festival “is a four-day film forum that will introduce new studio and independent features, documentaries, foreign features, short films, animated shorts and re-released classics.”
Cambodia town also offers an annual New Year’s celebration in April involving a Cambodian New Year Parade held in Cambodia Town, a culture festival at MacArther Park and New Year celebration at El Dorado Park.
To get more information on how to get involved next year call Sandy Rachana Nou at (562) 388-4978 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To get more information about Cambodia Town go to http://www.cambodiatown.com.