“How I Survived The Killing Fields”

Season 3, Episode 54

This episode I’m talking to Sara Im

Sara Im has life lessons and gained wisdom that impacts others due to her experience of surviving the mass genocide of Cambodia. Her inspirational Award-Winning Book ” How I Survived The Killing Fields” was honored in 2015. As a Speaker, she shares how tenacity, perseverance , and faith are required values to conquer fear and reach success.

Here’s what you’ll find in this episode:

00:00 Meet Sara Im, author of “How I Survived the Killing Fields”

00:54 Sara’s story

17:00 Interview with Sara Im

23:04 How Sara’s mother and brothers survived

24:57 Sara reflects on what ‘change’ means to her, answers questions from the Change Hub Ibble community and more.

39:42 Final thoughts from Sara Im

41:44 Final thoughts from the host

You can purchase a copy of Sara’s book here: https://www.saraim.com/book

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Transcript
Sara Im:

So I woke up real quickly that I need to do something.

Sara Im:

I feel like God gave me the courage, courage to think about escaping.

Sara Im:

It's really dangerous, but I had to do it.

Aden Nepom:

My guest today, authored the book, how I survived the killing

Aden Nepom:fields, which was honored in:Aden Nepom:

from her experience as a survivor of the mass genocide in Cambodia,

Aden Nepom:which lasted from:Aden Nepom:

As a speaker, she shares how tenacity, perseverance and faith are required

Aden Nepom:

values to conquer fear and reach success.

Aden Nepom:

My guest is Sara Im, I'm Aden Nepom.

Aden Nepom:

And this is The Changed Podcast

Aden Nepom:

this is episode 54 of the changed podcast.

Aden Nepom:

Here's Sara's story.

Sara Im:

I will take you on a journey from my childhood to, um,

Sara Im:

to college age because my parents believe in higher education.

Sara Im:

After I graduated, I went to college and the college is far away from home.

Sara Im:

It's about 350 miles or so it was in the capital city of Cambodia.

Sara Im:

It's called Phnom Penh.

Sara Im:

So I was away from everybody that I love.

Sara Im:In:Sara Im:

country and they, they came in, in the military style, military style proceeding

Sara Im:

into the city with military trucks, big tanks and the soldiers carry big guns on

Sara Im:

their shoulder, just march into the city.

Sara Im:

And I was peeping through the window and I saw some people wave the white flag, the

Sara Im:

neighbors and the, you know, the people that are just standing by and walking

Sara Im:

and watching them proceeding in military.

Sara Im:

And they, they were cheering on it's like Peace!

Sara Im:

Peace!

Sara Im:

So.

Sara Im:

Uh, they, they, they think that it will be peaceful.

Sara Im:

There's no more fighting.

Sara Im:

But to ask the price the next day, they wouldn't.

Sara Im:

The those soldier come door to door and looking for people.

Sara Im:

They pointing the gun at us and demand that we leave right away.

Sara Im:

Leave.

Sara Im:

Go.

Sara Im:

Go Where?

Sara Im:

We don't know where to go.

Sara Im:

They just want us to get out from the house immediately and just, just leave.

Sara Im:

So everybody pour ourself out in the street.

Sara Im:

So the street become very crowded, hot, and we just follow each other,

Sara Im:

trying to walk in the crowded street.

Sara Im:

And we keep walking away from the city.

Sara Im:

That's what they want.

Sara Im:

They don't want us to stay in the city anymore.

Sara Im:

And, and I realized that all the city in Cambodia are just like that,

Sara Im:

but I happen to be in the capital city where the most people live and,

Sara Im:

uh, I walked miserably in the heat.

Sara Im:

And for weeks we were walking.

Sara Im:

We sleep on the ground.

Sara Im:

We eat a little bit of food that we carry from home.

Sara Im:

If we run out of food, that's it.

Sara Im:

We have to be hungry.

Sara Im:

There's no more food to buy and all, everything was shut

Sara Im:

down, complete shutdown.

Sara Im:

This is a total pandemic.

Sara Im:

There's no more marketplace.

Sara Im:

They're were no restaurant, a grocery store, school bus,

Sara Im:

uh, post office, anything.

Sara Im:

So I could not reach out to my home, to my family to find out what happened to them.

Sara Im:

Um, I was terrified was so, so anxious and fearful.

Sara Im:

But after a few weeks of walking and sleeping on the ground,

Sara Im:

I end up in a small village.

Sara Im:

Where the people in the village, they already prepare that the big

Sara Im:

crowd from the city is coming.

Sara Im:

So some of them, some of them will take a few people in their home and

Sara Im:

then provide us a place to sleep temporary until we make our own place.

Sara Im:

So, um, and then they push us to work, to go to work in the rice field.

Sara Im:

And there I was fearful also because I never been taught how to do anything

Sara Im:

in the field, but if they were one good thing coming, they make an announcement

Sara Im:

that if anybody would like to move.

Sara Im:

Battambang is the province where my families live.

Sara Im:

When I heard the word Battambang I'm just so excited.

Sara Im:

I say, okay, me, I would sign up.

Sara Im:

I signed up right away.

Sara Im:

At that time.

Sara Im:

Um, my uncle also there, uh, with me.

Sara Im:

We, we, um, we got evacuated could get, um, I found my uncle, so I went with him.

Sara Im:

So my uncle decided to bring his whole family to move with me.

Sara Im:

So on the day that they moved us, we all moved together.

Sara Im:

They put us on the bus, on the boat and then on the train.

Sara Im:

And then they drop us in the middle of nowhere.

Sara Im:

I was so disappointed.

Sara Im:

I was expecting to get to Battambang, but this is like the middle of nowhere.

Sara Im:

And then like, almost like younger, but we cannot argue.

Sara Im:

We cannot protest.

Sara Im:

So.

Sara Im:

We just always what they want us to do.

Sara Im:

So we had to build our own, our own house, own place, to live with the

Sara Im:

whatever leaves in boards that we can get.

Sara Im:

Uh, so to make long story short, we make a shelter for ourself.

Sara Im:

And then my uncle and his wife went to work in the field.

Sara Im:

And I was helping out with your children.

Sara Im:

And then shortly after we got settled there, they have another announcement.

Sara Im:

They are looking for single men and woman who want to volunteer to get

Sara Im:

trained so that we might have a chance to go help out the village nearby.

Sara Im:

So when I heard that, I volunteer again.

Sara Im:

I don't want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere.

Sara Im:

I said, you know, this might be an opportunity for me to

Sara Im:

travel, to find my family.

Sara Im:

So I volunteer this time, but disappointment, I got

Sara Im:

stuck in this big camp.

Sara Im:There were:Sara Im:

Um, When we get to that camp they present us with the rule.

Sara Im:

Their rule is so ridiculous that we cannot do this, cannot do that.

Sara Im:

Cannot do that.

Sara Im:

And we have to work long hours all night, 16 hours a day,

Sara Im:

and very little time to sleep.

Sara Im:

And they give us very little food to eat.

Sara Im:hat they prepare food for all:Sara Im:

people, but the food was not enough.

Sara Im:

So we were starved and hungry and exhausted.

Sara Im:

So pretty soon many of us got sick and me too, I become very sick.

Sara Im:

So, um, I keep pushing myself to go to work every day because if I

Sara Im:

don't work, I don't get food to eat and, um, I might get punishment.

Sara Im:

So keep pushing until I cannot work anymore.

Sara Im:

When anybody that cannot go to work, they don't want us to stay there.

Sara Im:

They send us to another place and that place is the infirmary for the sick people

Sara Im:

stay and wait for the time for us to die.

Sara Im:

There was nothing to help us to get better.

Sara Im:

So when I realized the situation is really bad I realize I should not stay in this

Sara Im:

place because I will get more disease.

Sara Im:

I cannot handle that.

Sara Im:

So I will die as a result and I cannot really run away because I was too sick

Sara Im:

and, uh, I cannot go back to work.

Sara Im:

So I was stuck.

Sara Im:

This is the time when I search inside.

Sara Im:

Looking for my way, my way out of this situation, I was

Sara Im:

trapped, I don't know what to do.

Sara Im:

There is no option for me to choose.

Sara Im:

And when I were thinking about how do I make it, how do I survive this situation?

Sara Im:

I remember when I was young, I enjoy listening to my mom, reading the book.

Sara Im:

She, she loved to read the book and one of the books that she read, I remember that

Sara Im:

story so vividly in the story, there was a main person who grabbed other people's

Sara Im:

children and the wife, and he abused them.

Sara Im:

And it took God.

Sara Im:

There was God who saw what he did to the children and the woman.

Sara Im:

And, and God sent his angel to rescue the children and the woman from this story.

Sara Im:

I made up my mind since I was young.

Sara Im:

I believe that there is God.

Sara Im:

So that's my belief.

Sara Im:

I believe God exists.

Sara Im:

And he knows everything.

Sara Im:

Now that I am in danger, I am about to die.

Sara Im:

I thought of that, God and I pray and I ask God to help me to survive.

Sara Im:

I cried every night waiting for my time.

Sara Im:

Not just once or twice, many, many nights.

Sara Im:

And then one more early one morning I got up really early before everybody else.

Sara Im:

And I feel like I have a little bit strength today.

Sara Im:

So maybe I can walk out from here.

Sara Im:

So I did, I sneak out and when I got out from the infirmary, I went

Sara Im:

to the, the, the place where the working people stay and I met one

Sara Im:

kind team leader she's young and she saw me and she feel sympathy for me.

Sara Im:

And she told me in her group, You stay with me.

Sara Im:

I might find something for you to do, but she realized that I'm still too sick

Sara Im:

to do anything for her, but she, she went ahead and talked to the people at

Sara Im:

the kitchen and she asked them to see if they want, if they can do some help.

Sara Im:

And they say yes.

Sara Im:

So she sent me to work in the case.

Sara Im:

That's how God answered my prayer.

Sara Im:

God send me to me the kind person, and he sent me to work in the kitchen.

Sara Im:

And in the kitchen, I had more access to food and I was less hour but in the

Sara Im:

shade not in the heat all day long.

Sara Im:

So gradually I start to feel better.

Sara Im:

Start to feel better.

Sara Im:

Eventually I shed off some of the serious disease and I, I be like

Sara Im:

almost recovered, but not quite.

Sara Im:

Not a hundred percent.

Sara Im:

But when the, the team leaders saw me look better, feel better.

Sara Im:

They pulled me up from the kitchen and throw me back to work in the rice field.

Sara Im:

So from there, I realized that even though I could not stay in the kitchen

Sara Im:

forever, but the kitchen gave me a break.

Sara Im:

He made a time for me to recover.

Sara Im:

So I did not die.

Sara Im:

I was so close to that before I get out from the infirmary.

Sara Im:

So I continue to work in the rice field for three more years.

Sara Im:

So, so toward the end of the four years, all together, it's almost four years.

Sara Im:

This camp start to move.

Sara Im:

The people move the camp and they move closer and closer to the jungle.

Sara Im:

And I realized, "wow, if I keep staying with them, I could live in a jungle.

Sara Im:

There's no way I can find my family in the jungle.

Sara Im:

So I woke up real quickly that I need to do something.

Sara Im:

I feel like God gave me the courage, courage to think about escaping.

Sara Im:

It's really dangerous, but I had to do it.

Sara Im:

So I talked to three of my close friends.

Sara Im:

I asked them if they would come with me.

Sara Im:

I need help because I cannot do it alone.

Sara Im:

I was frail again.

Sara Im:

So my friend accept my, my plea and they say, yes, I'll go with you.

Sara Im:

So we made the dangerous escape and we were successful.

Sara Im:

It was very difficult very dangerous, and very risky, but we made it, made it out.

Sara Im:

So we walk through the jungle all night long until the next

Sara Im:

morning, realize that we were free!

Sara Im:

We were free at last!

Sara Im:

So, we keep going and going until my goal was to look for my family.

Sara Im:

So when I saw some people I ask for direction.

Sara Im:

And finally, after a long, long walk, I found my family.

Sara Im:

I, I abbreviate my, my journey, but, but at the end I was able

Sara Im:

to be united with my family.

Sara Im:

So it was a really happy ending for me

Aden Nepom:

up next, my conversation with Sara Im.

Aden Nepom:

Hi, Sara.

Aden Nepom:

Welcome.

Aden Nepom:

I appreciate you joining me on the podcast today.

Sara Im:

Hi, Aden.

Sara Im:

Thank you so much for having me today.

Aden Nepom:

You have clearly been through quite a lot in your life and we're going

Aden Nepom:

to get to some of those details in a bit.

Aden Nepom:

But before we do that, I just wanted to get a sense of.

Aden Nepom:

You.

Aden Nepom:

So these days you work as a speaker, you travel around, you're an author.

Aden Nepom:

Um, did you ever imagine that your life would turn out the way it has turned out

Sara Im:

Never, no, this is, um, totally different than I ever imagined.

Sara Im:

My life would be

Aden Nepom:

in a good way?

Aden Nepom:

I hope.

Sara Im:

in a good way.

Sara Im:

Very good play.

Sara Im:

Thank you.

Aden Nepom:

What's one of your like guilty pleasures when you're traveling

Aden Nepom:

something like, for me, I'll watch really terrible television when I'm in a hotel

Aden Nepom:

room, which I never do well these days, I also watch terrible television at home.

Aden Nepom:

But it's like a guilty pleasure when I'm traveling to allow myself to watch TV.

Aden Nepom:

I would never watch at home.

Aden Nepom:

What's a guilty pleasure of yours when you're on the road.

Sara Im:

Oh, guilty pleasure.

Sara Im:

Probably eat a little bit too much.

Aden Nepom:

Fair enough.

Aden Nepom:

Fair enough.

Aden Nepom:

Um, well, I am curious.

Aden Nepom:

You know, the key word for this podcast is change.

Aden Nepom:

That is the center of, of what I am the most curious about.

Aden Nepom:

And I'm curious for you, when you hear the word change, like,

Aden Nepom:

what is the word mean to you?

Aden Nepom:

What is the meaning of that word in your life?

Sara Im:

Well, the word.

Sara Im:

Change brought back, back memory because of the bad change in

Sara Im:

my life, but not much anymore.

Sara Im:

I realized that that, that bad change it happened once, maybe in my lifetime,

Sara Im:

but the next change it's a lot easier.

Sara Im:

So I adopt change a lot better now than I am understand the full meaning of the

Sara Im:

change, the change can be abrupt, can be adventurous, can be life threatening.

Sara Im:

But since that big change happened to my life, now I'm not fearful

Sara Im:

of the new change anymore because I know how to handle that.

Aden Nepom:hat was your life like before:Sara Im:

My life was peaceful.

Sara Im:

Um, I was born, born in the farmers family, my parents are farmers

Sara Im:

and we live in the countryside and I was the first born.

Sara Im:

So I experienced tremendous love from my family.

Sara Im:

I feel loved and secure, and I was a happy child.

Sara Im:

Um, I'm always happy.

Aden Nepom:

What was, do you remember what your sort of everyday

Aden Nepom:

routine was like at that time?

Sara Im:

At a young age?

Sara Im:

Daily routine was school, go to school and come back and play.

Sara Im:

And that's, that's about it, and my parents did not want me to help

Sara Im:

out in the farm because they did not want me to grow up as a farmer.

Sara Im:

They believe.

Sara Im:

They believe in higher education.

Sara Im:

So they encouraged me to stay, do, stay home, doing

Sara Im:

homework, just enjoy your study.

Sara Im:

So that's what I experienced doing.

Sara Im:

And after I finished my homework, I'd do drawing.

Sara Im:

I love to draw, I, I have a little desk.

Sara Im:

I sit on the floor and draw.

Sara Im:

I love to draw.

Aden Nepom:

What kind of pictures would you draw?

Sara Im:

I usually draw the, put a woman's picture and most of the

Sara Im:

time, just the portrait picture.

Sara Im:

But once in a while, I'd draw the trees, the fruit trees, and,

Sara Im:

you know, just pencil drawing.

Aden Nepom:

Do you still enjoy drawing?

Sara Im:

I did not have much time to do the drawing.

Sara Im:

Sometimes when I went to a different hair stylist and they want to know

Sara Im:

what kind of hair style do I want.

Sara Im:

If I have a hard time explaining I do the drawing.

Sara Im:

I said, basically, it's how I look like this is how I want my hair to look like.

Aden Nepom:

That's great.

Aden Nepom:

You know, you know, the things that we learn as children can

Aden Nepom:

help us later in life, for sure.

Aden Nepom:

Even the little things, but you went through far bigger things

Aden Nepom:

than simply learning how to draw.

Aden Nepom:

So, Sarah, I'll go ahead and just, open it up did you lose any of your

Aden Nepom:

family members during that period of time?

Aden Nepom:

Did everyone survive?

Sara Im:

everyone in my immediate family survived,

Sara Im:

miracle, but I lost many.

Sara Im:

Yeah.

Sara Im:

Yeah.

Sara Im:

I lost many of my male cousins.

Sara Im:

But my family almost get wiped out in one gunshot.

Sara Im:

My mom didn't tell me until later, long, long, long, many, many years

Aden Nepom:

What happened?

Sara Im:

During the time that the whole country was liberated four month before

Sara Im:

I escaped four month, everybody was free.

Sara Im:

But, but during the time that was liberating.

Sara Im:

One, uh, the commander was still in control.

Sara Im:

They still want people to go with them, but a lot of people

Sara Im:

want to get away from them.

Sara Im:

My family wants to get away from them.

Sara Im:

During the breakaway, they found my family all together.

Sara Im:

My mom, my dad, and three brothers all together and they

Sara Im:

almost pulled the trigger.

Sara Im:

But my mom was so clever and she sat down.

Sara Im:

My mom was really skinny.

Sara Im:

She had a stroke and it's a long, long story about my mom's struggle,

Sara Im:

but my mom's sit down right away and she said, stop, don't shoot.

Sara Im:

Um, I'm just need a few minutes of break.

Sara Im:

Look!

Sara Im:

And she, she opened her shirt and showed all the rib cage and

Sara Im:

all the bones, she was so skinny.

Sara Im:

She said, look at me, look at me.

Sara Im:

I am sick.

Sara Im:

And I just need a little time for break.

Sara Im:

So they, they stopped pulling the trigger.

Sara Im:

And my, my brother, he was ready to run when my mom says stop!

Sara Im:

Don't run!.

Sara Im:

So all at once, they almost got wiped out.

Sara Im:

It was so scary.

Aden Nepom:

Thank you for sharing, um, these stories and, uh, And

Aden Nepom:

there are more stories in your book if people want to pick that up.

Aden Nepom:

One of the questions that, um, uh, someone who follows me on Ibble was curious about

Aden Nepom:

is, knowing how many people did die.

Aden Nepom:

How do you, how do you manage your feelings about being a survivor?

Aden Nepom:

Do you encounter any kind of survivors guilt?

Aden Nepom:

I know some people do.

Aden Nepom:

Is that something you struggle with or, or no?

Sara Im:

No, because, um, we all struggled together.

Sara Im:

Like during the time in the infirmary, some of my very close friend die, she

Sara Im:

cried out for me, reach out for help, but I, myself was dying also, and I

Sara Im:

could not even crawl to touch her hand.

Sara Im:

All I can say, just say that I love you.

Sara Im:

And then she passed away, that was so close to me, but it's,

Sara Im:

it's, I'm not guilty of anything.

Sara Im:

I did my best.

Sara Im:

I, I, I love the people that I make friends with and I love my family.

Sara Im:

And I lost a lot of cousins and my uncle, my uncle that, uh, that come

Sara Im:

from the city with me, he didn't make it so yes, I feel so sorry that I

Sara Im:

lost them, but I don't feel I don't carry the guilt that I am a survivor

Sara Im:

because I did my very best to survive.

Sara Im:

I almost didn't make it myself.

Aden Nepom:

Yeah, I I'm glad to hear that.

Aden Nepom:

I don't think there's any guilt to be carried.

Aden Nepom:

Uh, own description.

Aden Nepom:

If, if your belief is what it is, then it, then it's simply a miracle to be

Aden Nepom:

grateful for that you did survive.

Aden Nepom:

Um, do you have a sense of how this came to even happen?

Aden Nepom:

Uh, how, how did this even come to pass that this was possible?

Aden Nepom:In:Aden Nepom:

of the cities to go work in the fields.

Aden Nepom:

How did that come to pass?

Aden Nepom:

Do you have a sense of that?

Sara Im:

No, I did not expect that if I have a sense of that,

Sara Im:

I would not go to the college.

Sara Im:

I would stay home with my family.

Sara Im:

We did not expect that.

Sara Im:

We know that change might come, the Khmer uh, the, um, the regime, might, might

Sara Im:

take place, but with the now, despite the extreme that we have experienced.

Aden Nepom:

That's just.

Aden Nepom:

Yeah, I I'm curious, there was so much chatter during , this past couple of

Aden Nepom:

years during this global pandemic where things were shut down, where people

Aden Nepom:

were asked to stay in their home.

Aden Nepom:

And there was a lot of conversation amongst people about this is the beginning

Aden Nepom:

of tyranny and so on and so forth.

Aden Nepom:

I'm I'm curious, having been through an actual.

Aden Nepom:

Horrifying takeover of society, how you felt during this period of time, did it

Aden Nepom:

bring back those memories or were you able to sort of go, this is different.

Sara Im:

Well, it brought back memory and gave me some concern,

Sara Im:

but this is the pandemic that we are dealing with is the disease.

Sara Im:

And I, I cannot relate.

Sara Im:

I, I don't, I don't, I don't connect to that.

Sara Im:

Uh, and it, it just caused some concern for me.

Sara Im:

And I just want to, um, to let people know that everything will pass, um, because.

Sara Im:

Life is life has plenty of ups and downs, challenge, problems all the time.

Sara Im:

So this is one of them.

Sara Im:

I think we had to deal with them and be clever, be smart about what

Sara Im:

so, um, for, for that reason, um, I team up with one of my friends.

Sara Im:

She's also a refugee from Vietnam.

Sara Im:

She's from Vietnam.

Sara Im:

I'm from Cambodia.

Sara Im:

We met only one month before the pandemic, and we got to know each other and we

Sara Im:

both live in Florida and she got, really really nervous about, about the pandemic.

Sara Im:

So she called me up.

Sara Im:

She said, I want to do something to calm people down to help people

Sara Im:

dealing with the mental, with emotional

Sara Im:

condition right now.

Sara Im:

So would you want to do the podcast with me?

Sara Im:

It's a live live show on, on Facebook.

Sara Im:

It's not a full, full podcast.

Sara Im:

So we did a live live Facebook show.

Sara Im:

We start out May 24th.

Sara Im:

We do it every day, Monday through Friday from 5:00 to 5:30 we just

Sara Im:

talk about us discussing sharing.

Sara Im:

So we, that's how we start.

Sara Im:

We want to just make sure that people are okay.

Sara Im:

You know, just, just talk and listen and have any questions.

Sara Im:

Just reach out to us and all that.

Sara Im:

So with them and we still doing until today.

Aden Nepom:

That's great.

Aden Nepom:

I guess that brings, that does bring us to present day.

Aden Nepom:

Doesn't it.

Aden Nepom:

So how do you feel that those experiences.

Aden Nepom:

When you look at how other people are living their lives and kind of going

Aden Nepom:

from their day to day and experiencing the ups and downs of their own lives.

Aden Nepom:

Do you feel, do you feel different from the, from other folks that you

Aden Nepom:

encounter or do you feel like we're all kind of the same to varying degrees?

Aden Nepom:

How, how do you sort of place your experience amongst the rest

Aden Nepom:

of the people you encounter?

Sara Im:

Yeah, in a way I feel the same, but on the other

Sara Im:

hand, I feel a little stronger.

Sara Im:

I feel like I have more resilience.

Sara Im:

I feel like, I feel like I've built my muscle against the,

Sara Im:

uh, the challenging time.

Sara Im:

So I'm not as fearful.

Sara Im:

Um, I'm more, more at peace, more at peace and more secure.

Sara Im:

I think that experience helped me to be that

Aden Nepom:

You do seem quite calm.

Aden Nepom:

I will

Aden Nepom:

say quite calm indeed.

Aden Nepom:

Which is part of why I asked.

Aden Nepom:

Question to begin with so many people that I encounter have

Aden Nepom:

major meltdowns over minor things.

Aden Nepom:

Um, what I would classify as something minor, but it's not because they have

Aden Nepom:

major meltdowns over minor things.

Aden Nepom:

It's because in their lives, those minor things feel pretty major.

Aden Nepom:

Um, what would you say to someone who is processing one

Aden Nepom:

of these moments in their lives?

Aden Nepom:

That to them.

Aden Nepom:

You know, it feels like the end of the world, even though it's not

Aden Nepom:

necessarily a life or death experience.

Aden Nepom:

Well, what would you say to someone to give them guidance in those.

Sara Im:

Well, um, I would say that if you are experiencing

Sara Im:

anxiety, nervous, and fearful.

Sara Im:

Look for something to hold onto.

Sara Im:

In my case, when I was in the captivity, I hold onto my vision that one day I

Sara Im:

will re be reunited with my family.

Sara Im:

I don't know if it possible or not, but imagine, imagine the good possibility.

Sara Im:

So imagination is very powerful.

Sara Im:

You don't know how it's going to happen, but you believe that it's going to happen.

Sara Im:

Believe that everything will be will be fine.

Sara Im:

Um, just trust.

Sara Im:

I have faith in the process.

Sara Im:

So I like to compare living life like living in Florida, Florida

Sara Im:

have a lot of hurricane coming through when the hurricane come,

Sara Im:

we all prepare and everything, but.

Sara Im:

The hurricane did not stay forever.

Sara Im:

It come.

Sara Im:

And then it go.

Sara Im:

So imagine our problem, just like a hurricane it's only

Sara Im:

come by and then they go away.

Sara Im:

And if you can find your shelter, something to hold onto, you will be safe.

Sara Im:

If, if the authority want you to evacuate, you just obey the authority.

Sara Im:

So that's how I, you handling the anxiety, the nervousness, the worriness, and just

Sara Im:

hold onto something that you love, you appreciate, and you are you're hopeful.

Aden Nepom:

That's beautiful.

Aden Nepom:

I'm curious.

Aden Nepom:

What do you think would have happened to you?

Aden Nepom:

Had you refuse to leave your home or had you not signed up to volunteer to go to

Aden Nepom:

another location, or had you not signed up to be, um, trained in something else.

Aden Nepom:

How do you think the story might have changed?

Aden Nepom:

Had those, those specific decision points been different for you?

Sara Im:

Hmm.

Sara Im:

I never thought of that.

Sara Im:

That's a good question.

Sara Im:

Well, if, if I did not sign, up, the very first time they might detect,

Sara Im:

they might know that I am a college student and the college stood, then

Sara Im:

the people that had some kind of education, higher education intellectual

Sara Im:

you are, um, go to the black list.

Sara Im:

They eliminate those people.

Sara Im:

So I might get eliminated long time ago.

Sara Im:

Another point that I, I like to share with the audience is this, we

Sara Im:

need to have a stronger resiliency.

Sara Im:

Resiliency is something that we need to build, before thing happened,

Sara Im:

resiliency is like building your own saving account in the bank.

Sara Im:

When you have a resiliency, you are more capable of handling the situation

Sara Im:

that bad situation is in a throw at you.

Sara Im:

You are better problem solver.

Sara Im:

You are stronger, you are more positive, you are optimistic.

Sara Im:

So building a resiliency is really important for anybody.

Sara Im:

Whether you come across the bad or not, but having the resiliency

Sara Im:

built in it's the good thing.

Aden Nepom:

I deeply agree with that.

Aden Nepom:

I had a conversation just last night with a group of women that I meet

Aden Nepom:

with occasionally on Wednesdays.

Aden Nepom:

And one of the things that a few, a few months ago, I had kind of a.

Aden Nepom:

I had a lot of fear and anxiety about where the world was headed.

Aden Nepom:

And, um, and because of that, I had, I failed to notice

Aden Nepom:

where things were going well.

Aden Nepom:

And so I just kind of stopped.

Aden Nepom:

And I, I told them, I was like, I'm not doing this anymore.

Aden Nepom:

I'm not, I'm not like I'm still hanging out with them, but I'm no longer, I

Aden Nepom:

refuse to believe some of the fearful predictions about where things are going.

Aden Nepom:

I just refuse to believe it, that, that it will be, you know, the end of life

Aden Nepom:

as we know it or that, um, Americans are going to starve or go broke.

Aden Nepom:

Uh, these things are always possibilities, actually.

Aden Nepom:

And also possiblity is we'll get through this and be stronger.

Aden Nepom:

The things won't be as bad as our predicted things could be worse

Aden Nepom:

than predicted, but, but assuming that it's going to be bad is not

Aden Nepom:

helpful to me in the present moment.

Aden Nepom:

What's better for me in the present.

Aden Nepom:

Is to look for evidence that things are going well, even if they're little clues.

Aden Nepom:

And the minute I made that shift, and this is something I've believed in,

Aden Nepom:

I've helped clients within the past.

Aden Nepom:

And yet here I was in this, in my own moment.

Aden Nepom:

Um, the minute I made that shift life immediately started getting better.

Aden Nepom:

Just focusing on where it is going well, and what could be better in the future?

Aden Nepom:

Just shifted my, everything, shifted my everything.

Sara Im:

Yup.

Sara Im:

Yup.

Sara Im:

Yup.

Sara Im:

There is a phrase and say that if you can stay positive in a

Sara Im:

negative situation you win.

Sara Im:

So, so it's not about a Rah rah rah positive.

Sara Im:

No.

Sara Im:

You look for something meaningful, the positive, meaningful

Sara Im:

something good to be grateful for.

Sara Im:

We can always find something good to be grateful for.

Aden Nepom:

Thank you, Sara.

Aden Nepom:

It's so inspiring to talk with you before we end our conversation today.

Aden Nepom:

You know, what, what closing thoughts would you like people to walk away from

Aden Nepom:

this conversation and take with them?

Aden Nepom:

Uh, and also if there are things of course, that you'd like to let people

Aden Nepom:

know about , so that they can get more of your wisdom, feel free to talk about that.

Sara Im:

Well, uh, I would like to leave with, with you all this thought that.

Sara Im:

You are loved.

Sara Im:

You are loved by your family by God.

Sara Im:

And that is very powerful, very powerful energy that you

Sara Im:

should hold onto your self.

Sara Im:

Whenever thing doesn't go the right way you hold onto that

Sara Im:

thought that you are loved.

Sara Im:

And believe that everything will be in control.

Sara Im:

God is in control.

Sara Im:

Everything is possible.

Sara Im:

So just be open-mind and thing is not as bad as you be fearful for be grateful for

Sara Im:

what you have and expect better thing.

Sara Im:

So hope will hope will stand for Having Only Positive Expectations

Sara Im:

so if anybody needs some help personally, guiding you to have you

Sara Im:

to have a calmer, peaceful life.

Sara Im:

Reach out to me.

Aden Nepom:

I'll have links in the show notes and Sara, I, once again,

Aden Nepom:

really appreciate you sharing your story here on the Changed Podcast.

Aden Nepom:

Your insights have been welcome.

Aden Nepom:

And wonderful

Sara Im:

thank you for having me.

Sara Im:

Appreciate you.

Aden Nepom:

Ahead my final thoughts.

Aden Nepom:

There have been times in my life where I complained about how something

Aden Nepom:

was going, or I was fearful about how something might work out.

Aden Nepom:

And somebody said something to me like, and you've probably heard this too,

Aden Nepom:

you know, it could always be worse.

Aden Nepom:

And while that's true, most of the time that elicits a knee-jerk response in me,

Aden Nepom:

that causes me to react in a negative way.

Aden Nepom:

I liked.

Aden Nepom:

What Sara shared here that actually the resilience needed

Aden Nepom:

to get us through, uh, anxiety.

Aden Nepom:

The resiliency that we can develop to get us through the toughest of times

Aden Nepom:

is not the mantra that it could always be worse, but actually the mantra

Aden Nepom:

that it could always get better.

Aden Nepom:

And I encourage all of us to do as Sarah suggests and dig down deep for

Aden Nepom:

an inspiring vision of a possible future, that gives you hope and know

Aden Nepom:

that while that won't necessarily predict the exact outcome you get,

Aden Nepom:

it really can get better from.

Aden Nepom:

Thank you for supporting the show.

Aden Nepom:

Uh, please make sure to share this conversation if you found it valuable.

Aden Nepom:

And of course, if you're interested in reading how I survived the killing fields,

Aden Nepom:

there will be a link to purchase the book in the show notes I'm Aden Nepom.

Aden Nepom:

And I wish you the kind of experiences in life.

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