Peace Begins With Me

by Eiei Phoo
Last Summer I received a scholarship to attend the 2014 Global Youth Peace Summit sponsored by the Amala Foundation. I belong to the young women’s program, Apsara’s Warriors, at CERI, and our program coordinator, Jen Jastrab, asked me if I would be interested in attending the summit. She helped me fill out the application and offered to drive me to the camp. She really wanted someone to represent CERI at the summit. All Jen could tell me was that my experience would be amazing and I would meet people from all over the world. It was true.
 The summit took place in beautiful Forest Hill, CA.
The most important thing I learned at the Amala Global Youth Peace Summit Camp is that people shouldn’t go to sleep with a stone in their heart. This is really hard for some people because some people choose to keep the things that bother them inside their heart and they’re afraid to let their inner emotions be heard. Trying to sleep it off only makes it worse.
I learned how to let go my of negative emotions and my burdens.


At the Amala Global Youth Peace Summmit Camp, I developed a strong connection with my cabin girls. Their life stories spoke to me and I really felt like I connected with them. I met amazing people from all over the world and their words of wisdom inspired me.




This experience made me realize that I shouldn’t care about what people think of me. I should focus on me. I also realized that it’s okay to tell someone how you feel and to ask for help from people.




I learned from the other campers and the staff, that people have their struggles, and when they get through them, we all come out stronger.





I love my Amala Peace Family and I really do miss them. I would recommend other people come to this camp because it helps you to find your inner self and connects your beautiful self with amazing people who are sharing the same experience as you. At Camp Amala you will make friends and learn to ask for help. You won’t feel like you’re alone, you will always have someone by your side.



Funding generated from Prop 63 and awarded through Alameda County supports the youth programs at CERI.

Where We Are From


In early October, the youngest member of our young women’s group led a creative writing exercise for us. The name of the exercise is derived from a poem written in 1993 by writer and educator,  George Ella Lyon called,  “I Am From”. To listen to Lyon recite her poem, and read about how she came to write this poem, you can follow this link:

Over the years the popularity of Lyon’s poem has grown exponentially. Many teachers and teaching artists have developed writing prompts, giving children and adults alike the opportunity to write their own, “Where I Am From” poem.

You may be wondering why a prompt is necessary. For people who do not see themselves as writers, a prompt is a helpful way to stimulate a thought, inspiration, memory or emotion that can be transformed into a story or poem.  For our exercise we utilized two different prompts, one by Levi Romero.

Why We Liked this Exercise

This writing exercise is an ideal way for a group to get to know one another better using the medium of creative writing. The prompts allow for both serious and humorous self-reflection. It does not take a long time to complete and the sharing afterwards encourages a deeper connection between group members. You learn things you did not expect to learn while you are sharing and listening to other group members.

Below is a sampling of our unedited “Where I Am From” poetry – we are honored to share it with you and hope you will be inspired to write your own poem!

Where We Are From…

By H. Mok

I am from One Direction, songs and albums

I am from a big purple house down the block from Roosevelt Middle School

I am from the pink rose gardens and the green apple tree in my back yard.

I am from dancing and awesome, Cynthia, Zipporah, Sokham.

I am from partying and fun.

I am from “Respect your elders at all times and always do your best.”

I am from a long history of a Khmer Rouge survivor, from a place where independence was the key to survival.

I am from Cambodian noodles and rice,

I am from the good and outgoing, happy family members.

I am from Oakland, California where I was taught to be a strong, brave, and independent woman, to succeed in life and become the essence of my family’s long history.


By M. Hov

I am from arguments

and broken plates, and broken things

I am from the crazy apartment on the corner of the block

I am from McDonalds and fruit,

roses, flowers and jasmine trees

I am from Cambodian stories

I am from anger and happiness, from Thavery and Dad

I am from eating a lot,

I am from long hair and crazy

I am from Bye Bye Bye by NSync

I am from chicken and ribs, Oakland and Cambodia

I am from respecting elders and Khmer Rouge survivors

I am from a Dad who was shot in the butt

I am from struggles

I am from love

I am from a crazy family

By N. Pich

I am from a house full of diapers and pee on the toilet seat

I am from cell phones and a TV

I am from Cambodian jasmine flowers and an apple tree

I am from Khmer Rouge survivors and refugees

I am from a strict family, an athletic family and a sports loving family

I am from Oakland Raiders and Oakland A’s

I am from “Clean the dishes and go shower.”

I am from “Oops I did it again.”

I am from “The Vill” in East Oakland

I am from Kaaw and Pho

I am from Khmer Rouge stories

By C. Mok

I am from earphones filled with music

From candy and trends

I am from changing weathers and death all around me

I am from marijuana plants

And the hand placed, small sidewalk trees

I  am from Khmer ceremonies and good Khmer food

I am from Sokham Mok and Son Cheng

I from gamblers and drinkers

And Raiders games

I am from “Don’t steal and stay away from boys.”

I am from Marvin Gaye, Aliyah and old soul

I am from celebrating at funerals

I am from Oakland, CA, and a Cambodian refugee

I am from soul food and Khmer cuisine

I am from discipline and strength
By D. Hov

I am from sisters peeing on beds

From dancing and eating and fun

And lots of stupidity

I am from trees and apples

sour and sweet

I am from basketball and football

I am from Thavery and Sokham

I am from craziness, happiness and sadness


By T. Hov

I am from a cozy cover, a TV and #1 Big Mac

I am from an Asian home, from plum trees and pomegranates

I am from survivors, from Hov and Eng

I am from rough

I am from curfew at 10, from “Suck it up and shut up.”

I am from alcoholics

I am from never wear make-up

I am from Cambodians and Oakland

I am from fried chicken and papaya salad

I am from abuse and neglect and taking care of babies


By D. Hov

I am from ‘belt land’ and hearing grown folks fight

I am from a loud ghetto village

I am from yellow fruits yummy and delicious

I am from fish paste and fish sauce

I am from spicy food and chicken in the morning

I am from “Tie your hair before you eat and your nose big.”

I am from, “If you jump on the bed naked we will give you a

I am from a misunderstood family

I am from doing things, without having things

I am from a strong and brave Asian family

By M. Johnny

I am from the radio

I am from singing and dancing

I am from sleeping

and watching TV

I am from ‘chilling’ and having fun

I am from studying and learning

I am from ribs and Cambodian food

I am from parting and coming back together

I am from love and heart