Ronnie Yimsut is the Founder of the Bakong Technical College and author of Facing The Khmer Rouge: A Cambodian Journey. He is a good friend of Tim Chhim.
Tim and I interviewed Ronnie for Journey To Success Radio.
RONNIE YIMSUT is an author and activist and has been the subject of independent documentary films and reports by CBS News, NBC News, and PBS, among others. His many written works include Journey to Freedom and In the Shadow of Angkor. A senior landscape architect for the USDA Forest Service, he is also involved in national and international NGOs.
Ronnie's Favorite Life Philosophies:
“Life’s too short, dream big and then go get em!”
“A good person builds a small circle around himself... A better person builds a larger circle that included his family and friends... A great person, however, builds a great-big circle that includes his community and society as well.”
As a child growing up in Cambodia, Ronnie Yimsut played among the ruins of the Angkor Wat temples, surrounded by a close-knit community. As the Khmer Rouge gained power and began its genocidal reign of terror, his life became a nightmare. In this stunning memoir, Yimsut describes how, in the wake of death and destruction, he decides to live.
Escaping the turmoil of Cambodia, he makes a perilous journey through the jungle into Thailand, only to be sent to a notorious Thai prison. Fortunately, he is able to reach a refugee camp and ultimately migrate to the United States, where he attended the University of Oregon and became an influential leader in the community of Cambodian immigrants. Facing the Khmer Rouge shows Ronnie's personal quest to rehabilitate himself, make a new life in America, and then return to Cambodia to help rebuild the land of his birth.
"Facing the Khmer Rouge reflects the way many Cambodian genocide survivors feel, but are often reluctant to express. His vivid recollections are full of passion—the passion of a man who is angry at the injustices done to so many innocent people—and a longing for an idyllic childhood that has been lost to him. Mr. Yimsut, who I have been proud to call my friend for over a decade, has the courage to express his fears, anger, and love of Cambodia in this vivid biography. Young Cambodians should read his book to help them imagine what it is like to lose one's parents and relatives to the Khmer Rouge, whose promises of equality and prosperity for all were never fulfilled. His book is a call for understanding and a bridge to reaching out to the future."
—Youk Chhang, activist and Director of Documentation Center of Cambodia (DCCAM)
"Facing the Khmer Rouge is beautifully written, informative and heartbreaking. Ronnie Yimsut's prose reads like poetry, vivid and captivating; and chock full of crisp details and imageries. With each turn of the page, Yimsut pulls readers deeper into his emotional and spiritual journey through his years of war and horrors. Yet, his story of love, family, and country, told in a soft, meditative voice—also breathes of forgiveness and healing. Facing the Khmer Rouge is a courageous memoir, and one that undoubtedly will leave Yimsut's readers believing in the best of man's humanity to man."
—Loung Ung, activist and author, First They Killed My Father
"Anyone who wants to know and to understand the plight of Cambodian people during the Khmer Rouge atrocities must read this extraordinary eyewitness account. He describes in depth his suffering and the inhumane treatment of innocent people by the Pol Pot regime. His remarkable story moved me tremendously because it is my story as well. I strongly recommend this book be taught in schools so the next generation will not allow genocide to ever happen again."
—Dith Pran, founder of the Dith Pran Holocaust Awareness Project Inc.
"Compelling, riveting, and inspiring! Ronnie Yimsut's deeply moving account of his life before, during and after the genocide embodies what it means to suffer, survive, heal, forgive, but never forget."
—Wayne E. Wright, University of Texas at San Antionio