Rady, a fourth-grader, slams down a checker piece to win the game. He and his opponent, third-grader Eden, are all smiles. Around them, kids play with blocks and other toys. A poster with the Khmer alphabet lines the back wall.
Learning phrases in Khmer is just one way children at the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association’s after-school program embrace their heritage. They also study cultural history and perform dances that blend hip-hop and traditional Cambodian choreography.
“We try to merge the new generation of youth… with the old-school culture,” said Youth Program Assistant Sopheak Mean, who is an undergraduate accounting student at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.