Humans of Khmer America

Brianna Mai

My name is Brianna Mai, but I go by Bri. My mother is Cambodian and my father is Vietnamese. I was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, a city known for its diversity, but mainly known for its large Cambodian population. I am in touch with my Cambodian roots because I was blessed with the opportunity to learn Cambodian traditional dancing with the Angkor Dance Troupe for over fifteen years now. I was one of only two Asian Americans in my high school, so I shared aspects of Cambodian culture like cuisine, dance, and history to my peers. Currently, I am in my second year as a plastics engineering student at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and I hope to work in the sports equipment industry.

I have always been interested in my parent’s history. My mother is the most beautiful woman I know inside and out. She escaped the genocide with her entire family at the age of 15. I learned that my mother wanted to be a dancer growing up, but that dream never materialized when she arrived in the US because she prioritized education and supporting a family. I couldn’t imagine how she is feeling now–seeing her five children perform all around New England. From dance alone I have been able to build a strong foundation between my mother and I.

My role model is my mother. Coming to the States as a teenager was a challenge. But she was the first in her family to graduate high school, college, and then earn her masters degree from Boston University. I admire her determination and work ethics more than anything in the world. She made me believe that anything is possible.

Besides dance, I am a hardcore fitness enthusiast. I also play basketball and way too much FIFA.

I love that Khmerican is so in touch with the Cambodian communities all around the US. Its wide coverage help expand my knowledge of Cambodian communities outside Lowell, especially discovering other dance troupes within the States

The last time I visited Cambodia was when I was 11, but I didn’t get to explore much because that was a mission trip. I plan on returning next year to train with the Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA) and visit more cultural landmarks.

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