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PrYSM started on November 8th, 2001, when a series of repeated Cambodian gang fights and resulting deaths, impassioned youth and local college students to fight for positive change in the community. At the same time, the U.S. just pressured the Cambodian government to sign a "repatriation agreement", allowing for the forced removal- deportation- of Cambodian refugees back to the country from which they fled a genocide and civil war. Southeast Asian (SEA) youth organized three community marches and demonstrations in front of the Providence INS office to protest the deportations; and mobilized resources and groups on the national level in a coordinated advocacy campaign. It was the first Cambodian youth protest in Providence, RI, and at our first rally, 15 year-old Theary Voeul echoed the sentiments and hearts of the crowd: "For the first time in my life, I felt proud to be Cambodian."
Today PrYSM is a non-profit SEA youth-led organization, with four staff, three solid programs, a strong board of directors, and a clear and passionate vision for social change. PrYSM's vision is end all forms of violence, whether they come from the self, the community, or from institutions and systems.