This personal submission is a part of the “No Longer Invisible: In Their Own Words” project, a story series established to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month at the UW.
Name: Muhamed Manhsour
Minors: Entrepreneurship and Diversity
“It is my hope to bring visibility and cultural pride as Cham people living in America for many generations to come – our existence and presence matters.”
“My name is Muhamed Manhsour. People look at me and see an Asian face. They wonder why I have an Arabic name. This is because of my wonderful heritage and I aim to preserve my culture so that succeeding generations will be enriched. Growing up in America, I am lucky to have learned about our complex and turbulent history from my grandparents. I am lucky because not all of the Cham kids received the opportunity to know their grandparents. There is fear among the community in sharing these stories from the past.
My goal is to educate people about Cham. I am planning on creating a cultural center that works to preserve Cham history and our language in order to empower Cham youth to follow their dreams.
Our language is dying due to our people being reserved about revealing their identity. In our motherland, Chams are afraid to identify themselves due to our history. My parents made sacrifices and escaped to America to make a better future for us. One of their visions is for us to learn our history and continue to speak our native languages.
My parents are refugees. My mom is from Cambodia and my dad is from Vietnam; they are Cham. Cham originated from Champa which was an independent kingdom since 200 AD. Cham are the indigenous natives of Vietnam and Cambodia and the major religions are Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. In our case, we are Muslim Cham.”