“People who disagree with you are not your enemies. They are just people who disagree with you.”
Ambassador and author Sichan Siv, speaking at AUPP.
For thirty years, people asked Sichan Siv when he would write a book about his experiences. He certainly had a compelling story to tell.
Born in Phnom Penh, he attended Sisowath Lycée and the Royal University of Phnom Penh, and was a young man beginning his career when the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975. After enduring a grueling life of forced labor in the northwest of the country, he managed to escape across the border into Thailand, and eventually made his way to the United States as a refugee. Thirteen years later he was in the White House, working for President George H.W. Bush, and in 2001 he became a United States Ambassador to the United Nations.
Five years later, Siv became convinced that the ‘temporary sadness’ of revisiting his painful past would be outweighed by the benefits of sharing his story. And so, on March 1, 2006, he sat down to write Golden Bones: An Extraordinary Journey from Hell in Cambodia to a New Life in the United States.
Speaking to an audience at AUPP on January 13, Ambassador Siv talked about his life, and lessons he learned from his experiences from his life in Cambodia and the United States. He stressed the important of hope, the value of ideas, and adapting to new and different circumstances. “Nothing is permanent except change,” he said.
Ambassador Siv’s talk was the second in series of public lectures hosted by the American University of Phnom Penh. The next presentation will be given by Dr. Benny Widyono, former Personal Representative to the United Nations Secretary General, and author of Dancing in Shadows: Sihanouk, the Khmer Rouge, and the United Nations in Cambodia. Dr. Widyono’s talk will take place on Friday January 17th on the AUPP campus, and is free and open to the public.
Phnom Penh Post article about Ambassador Siv’s book and presentation.