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Prepared by the Asian Studies Program, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The Southeast Asian refugee population in western Massachusetts has grown significantly in the past decade. By mid 1988 the Massachusetts Office of Refugees and Immigrants estimated this population in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties to be over 2,100 people. The Cambodian population in western Massachusetts was estimated to be 1,147 people as of December 31, 1988, of which as many as 45% were school-age children in grades K-12. Considering their refugee experience it is not surprising that many of these children lack basic educational skills and content knowledge in their own culture. Despite some remedial education provided in various refugee camps in Southeast Asia, these students are often not well prepared to perform effectively in U. S. schools. This additional burden has further complicated the adjustment and learning process for them as they have entered public schools. The educational community has also been confronted with a serious lack of instructional materials, bilingual educators, and background knowledge to assist them in working with these students or in developing curriculum units on Southeast Asia.

This Guide to Educational and Instructional Resources on Cambodia has been prepared to meet some of these needs for materials and background information. It is our hope that this document will be of primary benefit to educators working with the Cambodian student population. Though designed primarily for educators in western Massachusetts, it should be of use to all educators and volunteers working with a Cambodian population. A large portion of the materials cited here are concerned with instructional and bilingual education . Many have been developed specifically for use with refugees, especially Cambodian students. We have also included a selected list of background materials on Cambodian history, culture, values , social organization, literature and arts . These references should be of interest to educators, refugee service workers, and community organizations assisting thispopulation with basic life skills, problems of adapting to American society, and striving to become more self-reliant. Adult educators and ESL instructors will also find a selection of materials related to enhancing refugee bilingual learning, methods for improving basic language skills, and strategies for developing more effective study programs for adult students. Finally, this guide should also be of interest to Asian Studies students who are interested in improving their understanding of the richness and diversity of Cambodian culture and society.

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