Baylor University Institute for Oral History

Paul Thai

Baylor University Institute for Oral History
Transcript
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Index
Search This Index
X
0:34 - Early life in Cambodia in Phnom Penh

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: helping out in his family-owned restaurant, soldiers stealing meals from his family's restaurant


Hyperlink: Phnom Penh
3:18 - Early experience relating to his later life in public service

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: treat others the way you want to be treated, desire to never wear a uniform because uniforms in Cambodia represented corrupt authority

5:44 - Early memories of school

Play segment Segment link

Keywords: "Education is the only way to survive."

Subjects: Desire to be a teacher, school outlawed under Communist Regime, Angkar, strict discipline, uniforms, learning French, passion for language, math and reading


Hyperlink: Angkar
8:49 - Family moving to Kirirom

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: parents opening another restaurant, fighting between Khmer Rouge and Cambodian Freedom Fighters


Hyperlink: Khmer Rouge
11:23 - Family life as fighting rises

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: Older brothers being recruited by the Khmer Rouge, corruption in the government, Lon Nol government, secret support for the Khmer Rouge


Hyperlink: Lon Nol government
16:37 - Leaving Kirirom

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: Kirirom, hearing gunshots during class, dismissing school because of fighting

17:57 - Activities to engage in during the fighting

Play segment Segment link

Segment Synopsis: indoor activities, hide and seek, not being allowed to go outside or play sports because it was dangerous

19:43 - Move to Poipet

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: bomb shelters, bombings, father's illness, family in Poipet that owns a restaurant


Hyperlink: Poipet
22:14 - Life in Poipet

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: Poipet located along the border of Cambodia and Thailand, large Chinese ethnic population, less fighting by the Khmer Rouge, going to school with siblings, travelling to Thailand with mother for her business

24:32 - Studying at a Buddhist temple

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: illness, meditation, studying, living with Buddhist monks

27:24 - Dream about lottery numbers

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: Mango trees, traditional dancers, citizens consulting monks for lottery numbers, winning the lottery

33:00 - Training to be a Buddhist elder

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: illness of his sister, making money during training, Buddhist chanting, giving money to parents who were struggling financially

38:03 - Rising presence of the Khmer Rouge

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: Desire to be a monk, teaching young monks Sanskrit, Khmer Rouge overtaking Phnom Penh, head monk leaving to find his family, Khmer Rouge attacking monks and taking money, leaving to join his family, first encounter with the Khmer Rouge, parade of the Khmer Rouge with weapons, competition with the Thai army


Hyperlink: Khmer Rouge overtaking Phnom Penh
43:05 - Khmer Rouge causes evacuation of Poipet

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: Khmer Rouge states that Americans are going to bomb Poipet, evacuation of Poipet


Hyperlink: American bombing in Cambodia during this time
46:08 - Terror of the Khmer Rouge

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: rising fear of the Khmer Rouge, walking for over a week during the evacuation, carrying his father during his illness, Khmer Rouge killing people publicly to terrorize

51:24 - Targets of the Khmer Rouge

Play segment Segment link

Keywords: "Only the government is supposed to own stuff and you belong to the government."

Subjects: not allowed to have any property or money

54:24 - Transfer to a labor camp

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: breakup of the family by Khmer Rouge official, working in the labor camp supporting a rice plantation, new rice farming techniques, building dams, meetings in the evenings, people with an association with the former government were taken immediately to the killing fields, notion of year zero, teaching the village to read and write for only a few months, inability to trust anyone, suffering from migraines while laboring, beatings


Hyperlink: Beginning at "Year Zero"
61:43 - Living situation in the labor camp

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: Living with other prisoners, bowls of watery rice for meals, angkar, uncle speaking out and his child is immediately taken away, working seven days a week 12-14 hours, attending "reeducation" meetings, angkar, rebuilding the country


Hyperlink: Life in the Cambodian labor camps
64:23 - Khmer Rouge killing targets and escapees

Play segment Segment link

Keywords: "What is the meaning of life and I was thinking where is God? Why are we being treated this way I just never could understand it."

Subjects: police, soldiers, and government officials were the first to be eliminated, Thai's family was next on the list to be killed, Vietnamese invasion in 1979, public hangings at the labor camp


Hyperlink: Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in 1979
66:58 - Surviving in the labor camp

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: Angkar, killing for stealing, exporting rice to China, foraging for food in the forest, lack of proper medical care

71:36 - Conditions in the labor camp worsen

Play segment Segment link

Keywords: "Why were we born, what's the meaning of life?"

Subjects: lack of medical treatment, stealing food before the New year's celebration, growing up in the labor camp, starvation, no contact with the outside world, people dying in their sleep from starvation and illness

77:46 - Worst memories in the labor camp

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: uncle being tortured in a concentration camp, waking up to find his friend beside him is dead, learning about death

80:14 - Vietnamese invade Cambodia

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: weakening of the Khmer Rouge power, Cambodian Freedom Fighters, confusion when the Khmer Rouge leaves


Hyperlink: Cambodian-Vietnamese War
83:48 - Escaping from the labor camp

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: seeing dead bodies (both farmers, Vietnamese, and Khmer Rouge) on journey back to the village

85:20 - Returning to his family

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: Seeing his mother, sister, and brother for the first time, rescuing father from inside a concentration camp, fighting between the Vietnamese Khmer Rouge and the Cambodian Freedom Fighters

92:56 - Leaving the village

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: Encountering Vietnamese soldiers, learning about the mass graves in the country, eating a complete meal for the first time, watching people die when eating food for the first time, trying to get food and being shot at by the Khmer Rouge


Hyperlink: Mass graves in Cambodia or the "Killing Fields"
97:35 - On the move

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: trading for food, crossing into Thailand

101:01 - Smuggling across the border of Thailand

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: Booby traps, landmines, Cambodian Freedom Fighters, Khmer Rouge, Thai army, Thai robbers, crossing the border in Thailand, smuggling sugar and cigarettes, story of a Cambodian smuggling a diamond across the Thai border

110:00 - Nightmares

Play segment Segment link

Keywords: "I felt good when she said you are in America"

112:41 - Leaving Cambodia

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: 1979, limited food sources, trips to Thailand increasing in danger, father decides for the family to go to Thailand and then to America, first time he realizes America is taking refugees

120:17 - Being attacked by the Thai robbers 122:23 - First experience with the Red Cross 125:25 - Going to Dângrêk Mountain

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: loading onto buses for the journey, Thai people supplying them with food, Thai soldiers, Dângrêk Mountain


Hyperlink: Dângrêk Mountain
129:40 - Escape from Dângrêk Mountain

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: families being separated, terror, landmines exploding, soldiers attacking all refugees, brother being injured, leaving family members on top of the mountain

133:10 - Leaving Dângrêk Mountain

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: Traveling in the jungle for thirty days, foraging, rescue by Vietnamese soldiers

138:24 - Returning to Cambodia

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: experiences that cause nightmares, father's sickness, interactions with Vietnamese soldiers

145:27 - Attempting to come to America again

Play segment Segment link

Keywords: "She said I'm going to go die with y'all"

Subjects: Father's desire to come to America against the reluctance of the rest of the family, Khmer Rouge, Cambodian Freedom Fighters, and Thai army in combat, bombings of the camps, rape of the wife of a Cambodian Freedom Fighter by Thai official, Western reporters taking photos

151:34 - Further smuggling in Thailand

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: smuggling across the Thai border with his brothers, being caught by Thai soldiers, Red Cross, escaping from the truck

155:48 - Khao-I-Dang refugee camp

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: First time seeing Westerners, returning to his family, Khmer Rouge attacks, Thai soldiers beating people, Red Cross relief workers, watching a Chinese movie once a week, learning English


Hyperlink: Khao-I-Dang Camp
164:11 - Relocating to America

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: Writing letters to countries asking for sponsorship, France, Australia, mistreatment from the Thai soldiers, Clint Eastwood movies, California, New York

167:52 - Finding out his family can come to America

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: rejoicing with his brother, telling his family the news that they can come to America, testing and interviews for entrance

170:03 - Coming to the United States

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: Dallas Texas, first time flying on an airplane, getting sick, confusion over the time difference

171:24 - First Impressions of America

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: Arriving in Dallas, looking for Texas cowboys, learning about escalators and elevators, fascination with modern appliances

174:15 - Difficulties in America

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: experiencing crime for the first time, lack of air conditioning, older brother coming to the U.S. before the rest of the family and worked to buy the family a television, watching I Dream of Genie and Bewitched, having their television stolen, disbelief about crime in America, fear confronting the police in America

181:23 - Getting into law enforcement

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: working at Richardson High School as a janitor, working with a church printing shop, volunteering with All Saints Episcopal church, being hired as a translator for Dallas Baptist, sexual assault, language barrier, title as a public service officer, translating

187:35 - Service as a police officer

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: Representing the Asian community, ensuring safety in East Dallas area

191:24 - What family means

Play segment Segment link

Keywords: "Family means the whole world to me."

Subjects: separation from family creating more memory, loving and appreciating his family more after watching others lose their loved ones to violence

194:08 - Education

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: taking advantage of education in the U.S.

197:28 - Qualities that provide strength

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: family, American people, work in refugee camps

199:42 - Allowing genocide to happen

Play segment Segment link

Subjects: The Killing Fields movie, nightmares, telling his story for others


Hyperlink: The Killing Fields