“Growing up I was curious about anatomy and the physiology of the human body. I am currently studying in this field and hope to work as a sports and physical therapist in the future. I would also like to open my own bakery.
My father was a big influence in my life since I never knew my mother. He taught me to think globally and appreciate all cultures. I am fluent in French and Khmer.
There is a story that my uncle would tell us at every bbq about my father’s heroics. During the Khmer Rouge, both were briefly separated. One day he saw a soldier raise a pistol to the temple of my uncle’s head. It was as if time had stopped and his legs were made of lead. In my dad’s head he kept thinking, ‘will I be fast enough?’ He yelled out in Thai, “Stop! Stop! That’s my brother, he’s not Cambodian. You’re making a mistake.” My father had to tell that soldier his brother was not Khmer in order to save his life. Every time I hear this story I am reminded of how I am thankful to be Cambodian. Thankful for our adversities. Thankful for our history. Thankful for the sacrifices our parents made. Because without it, we would not be the strong and resilient people that we have become.“
Marlecka Men, 22
Photo by Phatry Derek Pan