Sokunthary Svay

Changing Hands

A daughter reflects on the life that her mother's manual labor made possible.

My mother's hands are a map of her suffering and survival.

When I was growing up, my mother - like many other Cambodian refugees in the Bronx - worked an at-home sweatshop job to make ends meet. In addition to working two jobs (my father worked one), she made hair bows for retail stores. This latter task involved heaps upon heaps of French-style barrettes, clear thread and fabric.

Sound Waves Across the Pacific

Southeast Asian-inspired bands like Dengue Fever and Neung Phak make inroads beyond the hipster crowd.

THE ONLY ACCESS I had to my parents' native music of Cambodia was through my father's cassettes, an impressive collection that he had borrowed and copied. The flaps of the cassettes bore cutouts of American women from fashion magazines. In some ways, the tapes' aesthetic is a good analogy for an old sound repackaged with a fresh new face.