My name is Seangthea Samai, 16, and I am a high school junior in the Long Beach Unified School District in California. I am active in campus organizations such as the badminton team, Marine Biology Club, Khmer Culture Club, Filipino Club, and the Key Club. Outside of school I am learning traditional Khmer dance at the Khmer Arts Academy. The arts have always been a part of my identity and passion. Currently, I play the violin, piano, guitar and ukulele, as well as learning some traditional Cambodian instruments. In my free time I enjoy spending time with family and friends, and photography.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate myself a 6 in my familiarity of Khmer culture and history. I have general knowledge of the subjects since my family made it a priority. With language, I feel I have a lot of room to grow; I understand more but unable to speak beyond the basics.
One of the biggest issues in the Khmer community in [Long Beach] is how second generation Cambodian Americans, like myself, are disconnected to their heritage and roots. My solution is to be more proactive–to speak out–starting with my peers. Creating cultural organizations like the Khmer Culture Club will forge friendships with other like-minded Cambodians and foster a deeper understanding of our rich history and culture. Through these efforts, I hope Cambodian American youth can find a sense of pride in their identity.
I aspire to be a pediatrician and enroll in medical school upon graduating. I hope to read more stories on the accomplishments made by Cambodian Americans on Khmerican.
📷: Veasna Keo
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