Common Read Resources

Welcome to BGSU Firelands Common Read Book Resources page, a page devoted to intellectual exploration and shared literary experiences. Here, we celebrate the power of literature to foster community, ignite discussions, and broaden perspectives.

Our book Ma and Me By Putsata Reang was carefully selected to serve as a unifying thread, connecting students, faculty, staff and community through the exploration of compelling narratives and a thought-provoking theme. As we embark on this literary journey together, let these resources be your guide to meaningful conversations, critical reflections, and a deeper understanding of the diverse world of ideas that literature unveils. 

Happy reading!  Check back often as we will be adding resources!

What does Khmer mean and how is it pronounced?
Khmer meaning and Pronunciation

Khmer, the language. Khmer, also known as Cambodian, is the official language of Cambodia.

How to pronounce “khmer”, Cambodia’s official language.

While the English pronounce Khmer as “ka mehr” as in rhyming with “bear”,  the Cambodians pronounce it “ka mai”, as in rhyming with “sky”. The sound of the word is not a part of the English “tongue” because the Cambodian alphabet has 74 letters.  This language has the most letters of any language in the world.

Khmer, the people. Khmer has a historic, cultural context describing a region, a people, and a culture.  Khmer are an ethnic group whose history is rooted in an empire that occupied the Southeast Asian countries of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.  90% of Khmer reside in The Kingdom of Cambodia.  The Khmer Empire reached its peak of power in the 11th century.  During this period the largest religious monument in the world was built, Angkor Wat.  With pride, this 402 acre structure is prominent on the Cambodian flag. While Angkor Wat was founded in the Hindu tradition, it is now home to a monastery of the dominant Cambodian sect of Buddhism.  

Cambodia in 1975-79
The Ugly History of Cambodia under Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge Regime

The Reang family of Ma and Me lived in the Khmer region during its ugliest time.  Under the Khmer Rouge, or Red Khmer communist rule, more than 150,000 Cambodians fled the Khmer region as refugees to America, mostly to the Pacific Northwest.  To stay in Cambodia could have been certain death as noted by the approximate two million Khmer who were killed in a mass genocide between 1975 and 1979.  This ugly period in history is told in this 6.5 minute Ted-Ed video called Ugly History: the Khmer Rouge Murders  

Today, visitors can tour a former school that was turned into the S-21 prison.  To see how playground equipment became the tools of torture, view this 2-minute video: A Visit to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

Culture of Cambodian-Americans

Cambodians have strived to preserve their culture in America.   To summarize the cultural traditions of marriage, death, religion, and family of this society, read the Cultural Atlas. A current perspective of the Cambodian-American preservation of culture is noted in the Asian Society Article:  The Cambodian Diaspora; Building Community in America.

Khmer culinary dishes are likened to Thai food, with a precise set of salty, sweet, spicy and sour flavors. Read this article on  Cambodian Food: 10 Traditional Dishes You Should Eat

If you are feeling inspired to eat similar food, visit Mekong Restaurant on 332 Milan Rd (Route 250) in Sandusky, Ohio

Updated: 01/25/2024 11:13AM