My name is Tai’Aysha. My father is Khmer and my mother is Dominican. I’m 17-years-old from the East Coast.

I didn’t grow up in a Khmer community but I’ve been heavily exposed to Khmer culture. I lived with my paternal grandmother for about 8 years and through her I learned about my Khmer heritage and how to appreciate and incorporate it into my life as much as possible.

Knowing about my parents’ native culture is important to me because it provides me with the basic fundamentals of who I am. My paternal side of my family and my maternal side of my family are almost incompatible. My Khmer side is more conservative and traditional while my Dominican side is more lively and eccentric.

When my grandmother first told me about fleeing Cambodia due to the Khmer Rouge, it impacted me deeply. It made me extremely introspective. I came to realize how blessed I was to be able to go to school everyday and how lucky I was that I could be an educated individual and not be in danger of being killed for it, like my descendants. From that point on, I spent much of my time studying, for school and independently.

I’m currently a junior in high school. Once I graduate, I plan on going to college. Frankly, I have no idea what I plan on majoring in. I believe I’m capable of doing almost anything I set my mind to and there’s multiple things I could end up doing. That being said, I try my best to maintain my good grades now so I can keep my options open in the future.

I don’t do much besides go to school and stay at home. I’ve always enjoyed reading and subsequently picked up an interest in writing poetry. I’ve had a few of my works published in various newspapers and anthologies but I would love to branch off and publish a collection of my own poetry. Studying and learning have also become a pastime of mine, as lame as it sounds. Obtaining new knowledge is such a great feeling and I try to learn something new everyday. I don’t model professionally but I’m not adverse to the idea of trying it out.

A role model of mine is author, Ernest Hemingway. He lived his life to the fullest with his diverse travels from African safaris to the beautiful city of Paris, he was never in opposition to an adventure. His travels made him extremely cultured and subsequently a universally celebrated author. I would love to travel, experience, and impact the world like he did.

I’ve never been to Cambodia but visiting is on my list. I really want to see Angkor Wat in person, it’s so gorgeous I think I would cry. I would want to take my grandmother with me because she hasn’t been back since she left. I would also want to take tours and visit museums so I can learn more than I do now.

Ten years from now, I don’t know exactly what I’m going to be doing. I’m a diverse woman with differing interests. I could be doing almost anything, as long as I’m happy while doing it.

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