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By Teang Tang

In Southeast Asia, there is a tiny gem that sparkles with the richness of cultural diversity - Cambodia. Populated with over 13 million people, Cambodia is known for it’s historic temples, Angkor Wat, remote forests, as well as a certain celebrity’s interest in the people and culture, Angelina Jolie. This Tomb Raider star acknowledges the Cambodian people for opening up their hearts and providing a welcoming community.

The Cambodian community in Calgary strives to educate others about their culture through the Khmer Youth Association of Alberta. This organization is based out of the Cambodian Buddhist Cultural Centre in Ogden. The Association focuses on cultural awareness through: Religion, Art and Education.
Buddhism is widely practiced in Asia, as well as the rest of the modern world. There are typical variations of this religion; however, the one that is practiced in Cambodia is Theravada Buddhism or “the teaching of elders”. Meditation classes are offered three times a week at the centre by one of the three golden robed monks who call the centre their home. These inspiring individuals have chosen to take on a life of poverty and simplicity in order to practice and study Buddhism. Be sure to stop into the Center one day, and you will be greeted by one of their friendly faces!

Khmer Classical dance also plays an important role in Khmer culture. Traditionally, dancers were trained as youngsters within the Royal Palace and were known as the Royal Cambodian Ballet. These dancers only left the Royal walls to attend to the King. World attention focused on them in the early century as one of the few court dance traditions remaining from antiquity. These ancient dancers are dressed in a mix of vibrantly coloured silks adorned with gold jewellery. Classes are offered on an ongoing basis for individuals who are interested in learning more about this ancient dance.

The official language in Cambodia is Khmer - one of the oldest languages within Southeast Asia. Khmer is comprised of one ancient alphabets: Palava Script. It is one the main Austro-Asiatic languages, and has had considerable influence from Sanskrit and Pali. Beginner Khmer language classes, taught by the Venerable Sophan – one of the Buddhist monks, are offered free of charge weekly to the public.
In addition to the language classes, Khmer Cooking classes are also available. Khmer cuisine is closely related to it’s neighbouring countries: Vietnam, Laos and Thailand – although it is not as spicy. The most widely used ingredients in many Cambodian dishes include coconut milk, lemongrass, tamarind, and much more. Popular Cambodian dishes include Num pachuknMbBa©úk¦, a style of chicken curry vermicelli and Beng Chow)aj;Eqv¦, tasty crepes filled with seasoned pork, bean sprouts, and fragrant onions served with a side of spicy fish sauce.
The Cambodian-Canadian Cultural Centre is located at 7011 Ogden Road SE. To participate in any of the classes offered, please contact the Khmer Youth Association at 561-7849, or at









Cambodian-Canadian Youth Association of Alberta
Copyrights © CCYAA January, 2006