Arn Chorn-Pond: A Life of Healing, Music, and Hope

Arn Chorn-Pond

Musician, Human Rights Activist, and Founder of Cambodian Living Arts
In 1984, Arn Chorn-Pond became the first Cambodian child soldier to speak publicly about the atrocities committed during the Cambodian genocide. He gave a speech to 10,000 people at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. Since that time, Arn has spoken and led workshops at conferences, universities, and high schools worldwide, sharing his personal story of resilience and healing.

Book Arn to speak at your school or event. Arn regularly shares his
personal story through speeches, presentations, podcasts, and workshops at conferences, universities, and high schools in the U.S. and around the world. 

For more information or to schedule this impactful experience for your students and guests, please contact us via email at

Arn’s Speech Testimonies

As I listened to Mr. Arn Chorn Pond’s presentation, I was profoundly moved by his narratives of forgiveness and resilience. I was left deeply impressed, and a new light was shed on Cambodia’s rich history. I was particularly touched by his peaceful and genuine demeanor. Rather than being angry about the tragedies he endured, he has found a way to move past them and inspire those around him. I also really appreciated the phrase he repeated about picking up music, not guns.

Through his discussion, I was able to reach a new level of empathy and gratefulness for everyone and everything around me. I’m immensely thankful for the chance to attend Mr. Arn Chorn Pond’s presentation, and I eagerly anticipate learning more about Cambodia’s history and Cambodia Living Arts from the students on the GIP trip to Cambodia.

About Arn Chorn-Pond

Born into a family of artists, Arn grew up in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime. Sent to a child labor camp and forced to play propaganda music during that period, Arn escaped to a refugee camp on the Cambodia-Thai border, where he was adopted by Reverend Peter Pond and moved to the U.S. as a refugee. After graduating from Providence College, Arn returned to Cambodia on a mission to find the legacy of his family, who were involved in Cambodian Opera; his music teacher from the time of the Khmer Rouge; and the stars of his early childhood. Instead, he found Cambodia’s few surviving master artists living in poverty.

Arn founded Cambodian Living Arts (CLA) in 1998 to preserve endangered arts after the Khmer Rouge regime, which saw a loss of 90% of artists. The CLA began with five students learning from remaining master artists. Arn is still involved, especially with The Khmer Magic Music Bus, a CLA program bringing music to remote Cambodian areas. Arn was one of the first recipients of the Reebok Human Rights Award in 1988, and he received the 1991 Amnesty International Human Rights Award, the 1993 Kohl Foundation International Peace Prize, and the 1996 Spirit of Anne Frank Outstanding Citizen Award. Arn now lives outside of Phnom Penh.

Recent Highlighted Articles about Arn’s Speech

Listen to Some Significant Talk from Arn