Footprint Journeys, "Start Here": Samnom Mao Chan

by City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and The Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Dancer and choreographer Amanda Miller and video artist Tony Rothlein incorporated oral history, video and movement with Start Here, a work — part of Journeys South — that drew on first-person stories of individual or familial journeys to South Philadelphia. At the heart of their exploration was the question: "Where do the paths of immigration intersect?"

Samnom Mao Chan

Samnom Mao Chan was a university student when the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia. He and his wife now own two newsstands in South Philadelphia.

“I start business here late 2000. I go many places to find a job. I go to look at the grocery and every place. I go to meditation class for ten day. And I pray, “God, please help me.” And finally I got this place and now love very much.”

“In Cambodia, I was a student in Pol Pot time, the genocide regime at that time. And I was chased out of the city of Phnom Penh to the countryside. My family almost all die. And when I come back from the Pol Pot regime, I return to Phnom Penh. And I worked in the government of Cambodia. Luckily, the government appoint me to work in Washington, D.C. Over there for four years. And I like America. I love very much the freedom. And so I decide to stay here. And I see clearly that America is the country of opportunity. Ten years have passed. My life is going on.”

Click here to read the full interview with Samnom Mao Chan!

This project has been funded by The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage through the Heritage Philadelphia Program.

Prev Photo X of Y Next
Prev Photo X of Y Next