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Orphans heading to Hawaii

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Thirty children to travel to the American tropical island state for a series of traditional Khmer dance performances and to learn how to surf

VANDY RATTANA

One of the 30 orphans heading to Hawaii helps pack the traditional Khmer instruments and props the group is taking.

CHECK Sreysrash could not keep the smile off her face as she described her upcoming trip to Hawaii with 29 other children from the Future Light Orphanage of Worldmate (FLOW). "It is a golden opportunity," she said, beaming. 

Funded by the online organisation Email Foster Parents International (EFPI), 30 children are to fly to Hawaii today where they will stay for two weeks, performing traditional Khmer dances for audiences across the American state.

Check Sreysrash, who wants to become a lawyer, was put into the orphanage when she was two years old because her family could not afford to take care of her. The 18-year-old has been dancing for seven years now. She has been to Japan once to perform and said she has gotten over her fear of flying.

"Japan was very interesting and the people were very friendly. Hawaii will be different, maybe more beautiful," she told the Post Monday.

Sharing Khmer culture

Joining her will be 19-year-old Yann Sambath, who was preparing for his first overseas trip and looking forward to showing other nations traditional Khmer dance.

"I've been practicing dance for almost five years, and what I like most about it is we can show our culture to other countries," he said.

In Yann Sambath's imagination, Hawaii is "like heaven with all the beautiful beaches and high mountains."

What excites him most, however, is not beaches but classrooms. "I would like to learn about [Hawaii's] education system in order to develop my own country," he said.

Rob Hail, founder of EFPI, has been based in Hawaii for 35 years and said the children on tour will not just be performing.

"We're going to the zoo, aquarium and surfing," he said. "They're going to be performing in three high schools, so they have the chance to sit in some classes."

Though the last few days have been full of pre-departure preparations, Hail said they had a blessing ceremony Sunday.

"We privately held a memorial for one of our main dancers, Srey Poch, who died in March from [autoimmune disease] lupus and would have loved to be on this trip."

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