Sokeo Ros is an artist passionate about giving back to the community, locally and globally. He began his journey in a refugee camp in Thailand. As a youth, he lived in a gang neighborhood in the West End of Providence, RI.
“Growing up, I didn’t know I had a voice. Nor did I know of any choices. I thought life was as is. And that was the norm. It took a lot to discover that I was wrong. We all have a voice and choices and opportunities. We need our youth to know that.” – Sokeo Ros
Sokeo’s search for his voice took him on a journey all the way back to Cambodia, a country his parents fled over thirty years ago. He met his grandparents for the first time. He learned of his parents’ struggles in the face of war. He began to fill in the void in his history. The result was his one-man show, From Refugee Camp to Project, a multimedia piece that gave expression to his process and story, and reached a wide audience.
“In order to know who you are, you have to know your history; your personal history.” – Sokeo Ros
Now, based on his experience, Sokeo has created Cambodian Lullaby. A cultural/performance arts program designed to help young people find their voices, Cambodian Lullaby is grounded in the belief that exploring personal stories and digging deep into the past is vital to understanding identity.
“This program is a part of growth. A part of that education. A part of that love, empathy and relationship. It is very important that we tell our story. Everyone has one.” – Sokeo Ros
Theo, Johanna, and Keily will be the first to participate in Cambodian Lullaby. Their stories range from refugee experiences, gang neighborhoods, living in orphanages, and adoption.
Directed by Sokeo, the program includes a trip to Cambodia. There, Theo, Johanna, and Keily will conduct historical and family research, as well as explore the ways in which a child’s life in Cambodia compares to a child’s life in the United States. They’ll document their work through journal entries, story-writing, recorded interviews, and photography. They will also have the opportunity to volunteer at one of the community schools in Phnom Penh.
Their experience will culminate in a performance piece. They will work with Sokeo, using theater, storytelling, video, and dance to share their experiences – and their stories. The premiere will be late fall of 2017.
“I truly believe that everyone has a story to tell.” – Sokeo Ros