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Faculty Resources

First They Killed My Father

2018-2019 Resource Guide



This year's book suggests a wide array of themes and topics that can serve as jumping off points for your program.

Here are just a few to get you started:

  • Survival
  • Family
  • Genocide
  • Cooperation
  • Sacrifice


Book Discussion Questions

  1. What fundamental problems existed in the Khmer Rouge's plan that caused the destruction of so many lives? Were there any values that the Khmer Rouge claimed to hold that you share?

  2. What impact did the narrator's child's voice have on your experience as a reader? How would you characterize the transformation that takes place in her narrative voice throughout the story?

  3. How did it affect your reading of the book that you were aware of Loung's father's impending death long before her?

  4. Would you describe Loung as a feminist? How did the experiences of the Ung family differ during the war because of gender?

  5. What was your impression of the final separation, both geographic and cultural, that Loung had with her surviving family? Did you sympathize with her eventual desire to assimilate into American culture, or had you expected her to be more aggressive about pursuing her family relationships earlier on?

  6. Loung saw herself as a "strong" person, as did many other people in the book, and was eventually drafted into a soldier training camp as a result. What are the qualities of a survivor? How does one reconcile compassion with a will to survive? What qualities enabled her gentle sister Chou to survive as well?

  7. With armed struggle a reality of life for people all over the world both past and present, how does one draw the line as to which means are ethical and unethical for coping with it, such as the author's current campaign against the use of landmines? Are there other tools of war that you believe should be broadly banned?

Study guide from

History and Museums- Online Resources

Program Ideas

If you would like to create a service-learning project to support learning regarding the book, please contact the Service-Learning Center located in Senator Judith Zaffirini Student Success Center 223. 

Contact information:

Phone: 956.326.3135

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Contact Information:

University College 
Zaffirini Student Success Center 223 
Phone 326-2134 
Fax 326-2129