Arn Chorn-Pond, founder of Cambodian Living Arts, is a Cambodian-American refugee and the subject of the critically acclaimed book, NEVER FALL DOWN (Harper Collins, 2012). Arn was featured in the Emmy-nominated documentary, The Flute Player. He is an internationally recognized human rights leader, speaker, and trainer. A former Director of Youth Programs for the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association in Lowell, Massachusetts, Arn served as a special adviser on Cambodian affairs for Clear Path International in early 2001.
Arn currently resides in Cambodia, where he continues to be chief advocate of Cambodian Living Arts supporting elder Cambodian musicians and artists to pass on their invaluable practices to the younger generation.
Born into a family of performers and musicians from Cambodia’s second-largest city, Battambang, Arn was sent to a children’s work camp after the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975. He escaped death by execution and starvation by playing his flute for the camp’s guards and later fled his captors when Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia in 1979. He managed to reach a refugee camp in Thailand where Peter Pond, a Lutheran minister and aid worker, befriended and adopted him in 1980.
Educated in the United States, attending Brown University and graduating from Providence College, Arn began a series of community rebuilding projects and founded several organizations, including Children of War, Cambodian Volunteers for Community Development, and Peace Makers, a U.S.-based gang-intervention project for Southeast Asian youth. In the mid 1990s, Arn returned to Cambodia on a mission to find the legacy of his family that was involved in the Cambodian Opera, his music teacher from the time of the Khmer Rouge, and the stars of his early childhood. On this trip the Cambodian Masters Performers Project, now Cambodian Living Arts, was born.
Arn is the recipient of the Reebok Human Rights Award, the Anne Frank Memorial Award, the Kohl Foundation International Peace Prize and two honorary doctorates for peace and humanitarian service. He is an accomplished musician, recording artist and performer who travels the world speaking to young people motivating them to be peacemakers.