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Students find inspiration in The Road of Lost Innocence during humanitarian trip to Cambodia

A couple of months ago we brought you news that West Texas A&M University has selected Somaly Mam’s memoir, The Road of Lost Innocence for use in their common reading program. Mam was sold into sexual slavery at the age of six but harrowingly escaped and now devotes her time and energy to helping others throughout her native Cambodia and other countries.

Last month, parents in the city of Cambridge, Massachussetts (inspired by Mam’s memoir as well as another popular common reading title, Cups of Tea) decided to raise money to help build a school in rural Cambodia in a project they dubbed Camb2Camb. Eight junior high and high school students were selected for a trip to the country through an application process. Prior to departure they researched topics they might encounter while in Cambodia such as  human trafficking, women’s rights, and the Khmer Rouge tribunals. The Road of Lost Innocence became pre-trip required reading.

While in Cambodia, students engaged in a number of activities including a dinner with Mam during which she spoke about her experiences as a sex slave and how she has helped free others.

The high school students kept online blogs during their trips. “I CAN’T STOP SMILING!” wrote Violet Brooks-Doucette. “Everyday I reflect on what we did and I say to myself, ‘today was the greatest day of my life,’ then the next day I say the exact same thing!”

For more information on the Camb2Camb project, read this article from Wicked Local Cambridge.

Want to inspire your students and promote service to others? E-mail rhacademic@randomhouse.com for a list of useful titles that are great for common reading programs.

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West Texas A&M selects The Road of Lost Innocence

West Texas A&M University has selected The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine by Somaly Mam for their common reading program.

Somaly Mam was sold into sexual slavery by her grandfather when she was only twelve years old. For the next decade she was shuttled through the brothels that make up the sprawling sex trade of Southeast Asia. She suffered unspeakable acts of brutality and witnessed horrors that would haunt her for the rest of her life–until, in her early twenties, she managed to escape. Unable to forget the girls she left behind, Mam became a tenacious and brave leader in the fight against human trafficking, rescuing sex workers–some as young as five and six–offering them shelter, rehabilitation, healing, and love and leading them into new life.

Ms. Mam recently spoke at UCLA about her experiences and her foundation. Check out the video below.

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