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Khmer Metal at the University of California, Berkeley

By Philippe De Gaiffier

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In front of famous Sather Gate at UC Berkeley.

When Phare, The Cambodian Circus “Khmer Metal” group came to visit my school, UC Berkeley in Berkeley, California, during their US Tour, a few students and I arranged to give them a tour of campus. We found them in the early afternoon eating lunch in an enclosed courtyard, hungry from the long drive (they were staying in Stockton, California). They were excited to meet us and learn a bit about university life in America.


We took the artists to visit iconic campus sites, such as the Campanile (a 300 foot tall tower), Memorial Glade, Doe Library and Sather Gate. They took a lot of pictures and seemed to enjoy spending time in these spots. Some pictures were representative of their circus acts, like climbing on the grated walls at the top of the Campanile, or somersaults in front of Sather Gate. They were also captivated by the size of the library and perused random books along the bookshelf. Though it was difficult to mobilize the large group, this also meant that they liked what they saw. Phare also had a chance to meet and talk with students from the Southeast Asian Student Coalition. These students learned a bit about Phare’s mission and the social entrepreneurship’s ability to help people in their country.

The visit to UC Berkeley was preceded by a performance in Oakland a couple days before. There, Phare dazzled a crowd of Cambodian community members and other local friends and families with their performance, “Khmer Metal.” The show was eye opening for the many audience members who hadn’t seen Phare perform before. Featuring daring acrobatic acts, a mix of traditional and modern music, and a storyline tackling contemporary social issues, the show was a crowd pleaser.

Philippe De Gaiffier is a student at UC Berkeley and the son of Kunthary De Gaiffier, a Phare board member and key organizer of Phare’s US Tour.


Read more about Phare’s US Tour here.

Read more about ‘Khmer Metal’ here.