Friday, December 03, 2004

From the Killing Fields to UNESCO

In 1976, Sichan Siv escaped across the border of Cambodia into Thailand, having spent a year in forced labor camps. While in Thailand, he became a Buddhist monk. A short time later, he was resettled as a refugee in Wallingford, Connecticut. He worked for a time as a cab driver in Manhattan before taking on a variety of positions in international development and government relations.

During the administration of George H. W. Bush, Siv served as Deputy Assistant to the President for Public Liaison and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs. From 1993 to 2001, he worked in banking and finance before becoming the senior adviser to the International Republican Institute. In October 2001, he was appointed to his current position: U.S. Representative to the U.N. Economic and Social Council.

Ambassador Siv's story--from refugee to ambassador--is the classic tale of the American dream. (Even more remarkable, however, is the transformation from Buddhist monk to prominent Republican.)