June 3, 2004
Young: Cambodian student of English and monk-to-be. Wat Peahpad, Battambang, Cambodia.
STREETBUZZ: Young, when and where were you born?
YOUNG: I born in Banteay Meanchey Province. I born in April 5, 1997. But I am orphan, because Pol Pot cut off the heads of my parents.
STREETBUZZ: So you became an orphan when you are very young? What about your brothers and sisters, what happened to them?
YOUNG: I have no brother or sister, I only one. I only one year old when Pol Pot kill my parents. (STREETBUZZ Note: The Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot ruled Cambodia from 1975 until 1979, when the Vietnamese invaded and drove them from most of the country. With controversial international assistance, the Khmer Rouge survived in the Thai border area and continued to terrorize Cambodia until the late 1990's.)
STREETBUZZ: So what happened to you after your parents died?
YOUNG: One person bring me to live with him, but now he go to Thailand country. Oh, he go there in 1994. Yes, he have wife but no child, only me. These person very nice to me, he can look to me very well. But he need money so he go to Thailand to work.
STREETBUZZ: Did you go to school?
YOUNG: They very poor, they have not money to me. I don't attend to school; I don't go to study.
STREETBUZZ: If you didn't go to school, how did you learn to write?
YOUNG: I have two monk teach me, here at the pagoda. Every day I have dictionary, I can learn Cambodian every day. When I know Cambodian, I can learn English. I thankful to meet you today because I can practice English. Thank heaven!
STREETBUZZ: What about your future? Do you have a plan for your future?
YOUNG: My future is...a become a monk, when I finish my study (English.) And my future is a become a teacher also. I will teach English.
STREETBUZZ: What do you think about the future of Cambodia?
YOUNG: My country future is very good. Because the foreigner come to Cambodia, they help Cambodia also.
STREETBUZZ: But what about the corruption? Doesn't that hurt Cambodia? Can it be fixed?
YOUNG: Yes, corruption. Somebody is good, somebody is not good. They are more bad people than good people in Cambodia. They are a lot of difficult to fix.
STREETBUZZ: How do you like living here at the pagoda? Are the monks good to you?
YOUNG: The monks - I am very well every day. The people in this Battambang are very good. A lot of the monks living in this pagoda are very good.
STREETBUZZ: What about Pol Pot? What do you think about the Khmer Rouge? What can you say about them?
YOUNG: I think that Pol Pot not good because they don't like Cambodia. Why they kill Cambodians?
Because the people in Cambodia can't hate Cambodia, so Pol Pot hate Cambodians.
Before, Cambodia was very nice. Now Pagoda and Angkor Wat not very nice, because Pol Pot hate everything in Cambodia. Pol Pot cut head off Buddha in Angkor Wat country and everywhere. (BUZZFLASH Note: As part of their campaign to eliminate Buddhism which they viewed as a reactionary set of beliefs, the Khmer Rouge reportedly defaced and destroyed many temples and images and statues of Buddha.)
You want to see pagoda now? I can open for you, the monks give me the key.
(At this time, Young took me inside the pagoda for a tour.)
YOUNG: This is the Buddha statue, it has gold. On the walls are the paintings, make by people who want to show the love of the Buddha. In this, you can see the Buddha statues, they have no head. Because Pol Pot cut off the head of the Buddha statue, same he do with Cambodia people.
Gilt Buddha inside pagoda at Wat Peahpad / small headless Buddhas.
STREETBUZZ: Young, thank you very much for the interview. It has been a pleasure to meet you, and tour the pagoda. I will try to come back again before I leave Battambang.
A STREETBUZZ INTERVIEW