For a long time, I didn’t know who I was. I grew up neither speaking Khmer language at home nor knowing about the cultural traditions and foods Cambodian people participated in and ate.
This cultural disconnection was due to many reasons which included having been mixed race and also having had a predominantly American upbringing. My dad and Cambodian family had also never talked about the genocide or our family history, so naturally, it wasn’t a topic I ever brought up as a child.
It was only during my junior year of high school in 2011 when I found out about my family’s history through University of Hawaii Manoa’s East-West Center travel scholarship. Despite only being selected as an alternate and not being able to go on the trip, I learned a lot about Cambodia throughout the process and it slowly opened up more conversations with my dad every night when we ate dinner together.