September 30 Online Event: The Refugee Story: Beginning, Middle and End

Robert McNally moderated an informative online discussion with authors Sieu Sean Do and Katya Cengel about refugees, trauma, and collective vs. individual truth.

Video of the Event




In Exiled: From the Killing Fields of Cambodia to California and Back journalist and UC Berkeley Extension writing instructor Katya Cengel follows the stories of four Cambodian American families as they confront criminal deportation forty years after their resettlement in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s.

Their stories begin with the genocide they survived under the Khmer Rouge, a Marxist power that wiped out from 13% to 30% of the Cambodian population. Sieu Sean Do tells that part of the story in his memoir A Cloak of Good Fortune, which chronicles his survival of the killing fields.

Written by a survivor and an outsider, Exiled and A Cloak of Good Fortune raise the question, who has the right to tell a story?

Cengel and Sean talk about the different perspectives they present and the benefits and shortcomings of each. They will also talk about chronicling trauma and individual and collective truth. Cengel will explain the legislation that allows for the deportation of refugees, adoptees and other immigrants.

Robert Aquinas McNally, author of The Modoc War, which chronicles another genocide, that of the Modocs in California, will moderate the discussion.

Writers, scholars, historians and others are all welcome to join this timely talk.

About Our Speakers

Sieu Sean Do

Sieu Sean Do is a survivor of the Khmer Rouge genocide and author of A Cloak of Good Fortune, a book highlighted on the storytelling program Snap Judgement, which airs on over 400 NPR radio stations.

Katya Cengel

Katya Cengel teaches at UC Berkeley Extension and is the author of three non-fiction books, including Exiled, which is part of a California State Library curated permanent collection. Cengel has been awarded grants from the International Reporting Project, the International Women’s Media Foundation and the International Center for Journalists.

About Our Moderator

Robert McNally

Robert McNally is a non-fiction writer and poet. The Modoc War was named a general-nonfiction finalist in the 2018 Northern California Book Awards, and won a gold medal from the Commonwealth Club of California as the year's best book on California.