Be the Change Network

aka "Kari's Blog"

Archive for April, 2007

A personal journey to the heart of Cambodia

April 15, 2007 By: Kari Category: General No Comments →

A personal journey to the heart of Cambodia

By Richard Irwin, Special to the Press-Telegram

HOW MANY authors would turn down an advance from a major publishing house so they could publish their own work?

Author Kari Grady Grossman did just that for purely altruistic reasons. Through Wild Heaven Press – part of Wild Heaven Productions, a documentary company that she and her husband George founded – a quarter of her new book’s profits are donated to Friends of the Grady Grossman School, a nonprofit group that supports a Cambodian school that the couple founded in their son’s honor in 2001.

In “Bones That Float: A Story of Adopting Cambodia,” the Wyoming-based journalist tells the story of how the adoption of her Cambodian son led her to investigate the tragic takeover by the Khmer Rouge and the lasting effects it had on this small Asian country.

Tuesday marks the 32nd anniversary of the takeover. Grady Grossman’s book covers the three decades that have passed since the genocide.

Cambodians celebrate their New Year in April, and this year could be a year of justice if the United Nations follows through on its plans to prosecute Khmer Rouge war criminals.

Grady Grossman entered a crowded orphanage in Phnom Penh on March 24, 2001. That’s where she met her 8-month-old son and began a personal quest to uncover her son’s past.

The journey took her through Cambodia’s gruesome history of genocide and war. In her book, the Wyoming writer tells the stories of two Cambodians, one who managed to escape the Khmer Rouge’s purge and one who didn’t.

Grady Grossman,a 1990 graduate of Syracuse University, has spent the last 20 years traveling around the world to write and produce documentaries.

Her work has appeared on Discovery Channel Online, ranging from covering the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska to an expedition on Mount Everest.

In “Bones That Float,” she takes readers on the back of a moto-taxi along the smoggy streets of Phnom Penh as she delves into her son’s past.

“Bones That Float” refers to a Cambodian phrase for the sacred that rises from suffering.

In her book, Grady Grossman takes us into the jungle with the Khmer Rouge, where boy soldiers force starving families to work all day at gunpoint. Later it jumps to modern-day Cambodia, where innocent preteen girls are bought by foreign pedophiles.

The book inspired the Grady Grossmans to create a school in a remote village in Cambodia, which now educates 500 children every year.

The Cambodian students were recently featured on the Voice of America for a letter-writing campaign to stop the deforestation of their country. The students are demanding an end to corruption in their community.

The publication date was moved forward to April because the author sees an urgent need for the international community to help save the forests in Cambodia, as well as the livelihoods supported by it.

In the end, the author reminds us that we’re all “one big family,” and we shouldn’t turn our backs on people suffering in other lands. Especially, Grady Grossman notes, when our country’s foreign policy has contributed to some of this suffering.

Proceeds from her new book will help fund Grady Grossman’s school. While “Bones That Float” will be available at major bookstores and online booksellers, more money per book will be donated if readers buy it directly from or by mail order to Wild Heaven Press, P.O. Box 65, Lander, WY 82520. The cost is $24.95, plus a $5 shipping fee.

Last year, the Grady Grossmans traveled to India, where they adopted their second child. She is now working on a book about that country.

Grady Grossman will man a booth at the Cambodian New Year Celebration on Saturday in Area 3 of El Dorado Regional Park, 7551 E. Spring St., Long Beach. She will discuss and sign “Bones That Float.”

The event, featuring traditional food, activities and entertainment, will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $20 per car in advance or $30 on the day of the event. For information, call (562) 607-9261 or see

Regional author returns from Cambodia with cause

April 08, 2007 By: Kari Category: General No Comments →

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Regional author returns from Cambodia with cause

(Courtesy Grady Grossman School) Kari Grady Grossman talks to villagers in Cambodia. The author is currently visiting Fort Collins to promote support for the country devastated by war and genocide.

Saturday, April 7, 2007
The Coloradoan (Ft. Collins, Colorado, USA)

Kari Grady Grossman traveled to Cambodia in 2001 with the intention of finding a child to adopt.

She came back to the U.S. with a 9-month-old son and a newfound mission to educate and better the lives of the children she could not take with her.

Since that life-altering journey, the author and documentary filmmaker from Lander, Wyo., has built and sustained a Cambodian elementary school and written a book about the experience. Grossman’s hope is that one-quarter of the proceeds from her soon-to-be-released chronology “Bones That Float, A Story of Adopting Cambodia” will help the fledgling school not only survive, but prosper.

Grady has been touring the Front Range for most of the past week to promote her book, scheduled to be released April 17, marking the 32-year anniversary of the bloody Khmer Rouge takeover of Cambodia. On Thursday and Friday, Grady spent time visiting two of the ninth-grade honors English classes at Lincoln Junior High School in Fort Collins.

“When we (she and her husband) went over there in March of 2001 to adopt our son, the experience really grabbed our hearts and we got involved with the education process over there,” Grossman said. “We raised $15,000, which was matched by the World Bank. A school was then built in honor of our son.”

Since the Grady Grossman School was first opened in 2001, enrollment has grown from 50 students to 485 students and eight teachers. The school has been such a success that the next step will be adding another building to the campus to be able to meet the demands of prospective students.

“Our goals now are to raise $10,000 to build a new computer lab and to stop the dropout rate of 50 percent by the third grade,” she said.

Grossman said many of the students who leave the school are forced to because of their family’s need for income. As proof of the difficulty of student retention, she pointed out the school’s disproportionate enrollment, where 92 children are enrolled as first graders, but just 16 as sixth-graders.

Grady’s purpose in speaking with the students in Colleen Conrad’s English classes was to educate and get them involved in a “sister school” program with students half a world away.

Conrad said Grady’s cause fits in nicely with the attitude of service-based learning she believes is embedded in the attitudes of Lincoln students.

“My kids love to do service; it is part of our culture,” Conrad said. “It empowers the students to see what they can do.”

Conrad said, during the last four years, her students have raised more than $42,000 to aid in removing land mines from Cambodia as part of the United Nations’ “Adopt a Minefield” campaign – more than any school in the world, she claims.

When she heard about Grossman’s experiences, she said it seemed like a perfect continuation of a charity her students had already adopted.

It is now Grossman and Conrad’s hope that next year’s Lincoln students will buy into the “sister school” program by becoming online English tutors for Cambodian students. The details haven’t been figured out, but Grossman believes the first step is to gain the interest of students.

“Once we have the internet connection, we can have a sister school to teach English communication,” Grossman said. “Right now, only 40 of 485 students are enrolled in English skills classes. In Cambodia, English skills open employment opportunities.”

For additional information:

Author shares harrowing experiences

April 06, 2007 By: Kari Category: General No Comments →

Author shares harrowing experiences

by Sarah Milke, The Rocky Mountain Collegian, Colorado State University

Issue date: 4/6/07

Inspiration to help comes from many different places and for documentary producer Kari Grady Grossman the inspiration came from a child.

After Grossman and her husband George adopted a baby from Cambodia six yearsKari Grady Grossman, author of Bones That Float, reads an excerpt from her book on Thursday evening in the Lory Student Center Bookstore.  After adopting a child from Cambodia, Grossman has worked to form a school in her son Grady's name for Cambodian children.  The proceeds from her book sales go towards funding the school.  (Danielle Klug)
ago they were exposed to the terrible conditions the country has been facing since the Vietnam War, the couple did an incredible amount of research on what they could do to help.

Grossman, who is also a writer and photographer, spoke in the CSU bookstore Thursday evening to promote her soon to be released book, “Bones that Float.” The book focuses on efforts to improve a crippled Cambodian village. “We were inspired to give back and help the country out of a very difficult situation,” Grossman said.

The couple discovered that schools had been destroyed and numerous teachers had been murdered by the Khmer Rouge Regime, which rose out of the conflicts from the war. After seeing the destruction, the couple decided to build a school to be shared by five villages in the Cardamom Mountains could require up to $15,700.

The Grossmans teamed up with the American Assistance for Cambodia, a non-profit organization, and were able to raise the money by selling pictures over the internet. They donated the money in the name of their newly adopted son.
“We figured we would donate the money and get on with our lives,” she said.
What they didn’t know was that the people of the village needed more than just a school; they also needed help with the education process. After the war, more than 70 percent of the country remained illiterate and 50 percent of kids don’t make it past a third grade education.

Because the teachers make less than $20 a month, they couldn’t afford to come back and forth to the school. The Grossmans’ new task was to raise money for supplies and housing for the teachers, along with a monthly food stipend.
Some of the things they donated were play dough, art supplies and puzzles.
“It gives the children an opportunity to think,” said Grossman.

Grossman, who in the past was an online writer for the Discovery Channel and a graduate of Syracuse University, currently resides in Lander, Wyoming with her family.

The book’s main release date is set for April 17, which marks the 32nd anniversary of the invasion of Cambodia. Grossman wrote the book initially to promote awareness of the current conditions but also as another way of raising money. “Bones that Float” is available at the CSU bookstore for $24.95 and 25 percent of the proceeds go to future projects not yet scheduled in Cambodia.

What Readers Say About Bones That Float

April 02, 2007 By: Kari Category: General No Comments →

Now that Bones That Float is hot of the press.


520 Pre-publication copies went out on March 27. I’m amazed at how many people read the whole thing in the first 24 hours they have the book in hand. Readers comments are beginning to file into my email box. What fun to have direct contact with readers! I will post comments that are emailed to me here. Or, you are welcome to post your own in the comments section. I welcome both postive feedback and criticism. The whole point of this project was to bring Cambodia’s story to mainstream attention. May a robust discourse start here!

I finished the Bones That Float e-book in the wee hours this morning, with Skyler, now just over 3 months old, asleep in my arms. What a deeply beautiful story, beautifully told. thank you for telling it. So much heartbreak, and so much hope. What an honor for you and George to be the parents of Grady. I cried at the end, with the closing scene of you and Grady watching the sunrise. I’m feeling now a revved up respect for the connected-ness and purpose in all of life.
-Ingrid Hutto – Washington, DC.

Wow! I just got done reading your book. It touched me so deeply. We adopted a little boy from Kazakhstan and I love hearing other stories of adoption and of those who are trying to make a difference in a world that is getting smaller and smaller. We live in Montana and have family in Wyoming and I am just dying to go to Amanda’s restuarant. She is such a great person, well all who are in the story truly are. I will definitely be donating to this cause soon, and have already encouraged people on one of our online Kazakhstan adoption groups to go buy and read this book. No matter where you have adopted from or are adopting from I think everyone should read this story, because like you said, we are all one big family.You are living a dream of mine, to try and make a difference in childrens lives. I will be praying for your cause and Cambodia. Thank you so much for your story!
-Jenni Carrier – Montana

Wow! I’ve just finished reading Kari’s book, Bones That Float, and it’s really wonderful. Kari is a great writer and often seemed to be giving voice to many of my own thoughts and emotions about Cambodia and adoption. Those who attended the 2004 Cambodian Heritage Camp and attended the marvelous cooking class will also recognize in the book the life story of Amanda Prom, who taught that class. I usually only read at night after my daughter goes to bed, and since the book arrived, I eagerly looked forward to diving back in each night for more! Thank you for writing it, Kari, and congratulations on a job well done.
Sandra Micken, Montana

Loung Ung reviews Bones That Float

April 02, 2007 By: Kari Category: General No Comments →

I wanted to thank everyone for their interest in my soon to be released book Bones That Float, A Story of Adopting Cambodia.

I just received a review from Luong Ung that you might find interesting.

Bones That Float is Kari Grady Grossman’s tender tale of her journey to find her son in Cambodia. But more than an adoption story, this beautifully written book brings to light the external, internal, and spiritual struggles mothers of internationally adoptive children face in their new roles. As a mother, Kari understands the cultural and emotional issues her son, like many other young Asian Americans today, will face in our contemporary American society. As a writer, she knows that Asian Americans are more than the one dimensional characters they are often portrayed on television and in films. Instead, they are a juxtaposition of old and new world views, proud of their cultures but also finding that sometimes they have to rebel against traditions that keep them down. Like her son, today’s Asian American youths will have to break molds and barriers to create a new mosaic of families, lives, and multi-national identities in their increasingly global world. In her desire to understand and make whole her sonís two countries, Kari integrates both cultures into her heart and their lives so successfully, sheís fallen in love with her sonís ëotherí brothers and sisters in Cambodia. This led Kari to return to Cambodia many times to build a school and become ëmamaí to over 450 children. Told with fierce honesty and an affecting voice, Bones that Float is a love story of mother for her child, and a testimony of how love can change the world.”

– Loung Ung, author of First They Killed My Father and Lucky Child.

Even more important, I spoke to our school director this weekend; because of my visit to the school 6 weeks ago, and the children being featured on Voice of America, 100 children have come back to school!!! They were all 3rd-6th grade students who had dropped out to work. For their parents, everyday they send them to school is a sacrifice, but they again see hope. That is why the relationship matters as much as the money.

If you have already ordered the book during the pre-publication sale, I thank you for your support and patience. Books are due to be shipped to us on March 16, and out to you on March 22.

The Official Publication date for bookstores is April 17, 2007, commemorating Khmer New Year and the 32-year anniversary of the Khmer Rouge takeover, in this new year when UN war crime trials are supposed to begin.

If you are interested in ordering the book, the most money goes to our school in Cambodia when you order direct from

We are only 50 books away from reaching our pre-publication goal of 500!!!

I will be at the Long Beach Khmer New Year on April 21st, signing books!

With profound gratitude, Kari Grady Grossman

proud moma of Grady, age 6 Cambodia, and Shanti, age 2, India
author of Bones That Float, A Story of Adopting Cambodia on sale now at
sales benefit The Friends of the Grady Grossman School