page angle


Age 16, Long Beach

I’m 16, a few years away from becoming an adult. It’s kind of scary, but exciting. My dad keeps talking about the “real-world” and I know it’s going to be a lot of responsibility. There’s a lot of pressure on me to live up to expectations and I don’t like to disappoint people.

I am mixed – mostly Cambodian, Chinese/Vietnamese. Older generations look up to Chinese and Vietnamese for being lighter skinned. I’m dark and I used to cry about it. The older generations are very biased, but I try to keep an open mind. The last thing I ever want is to be close-minded and not know it. People put others down based off their deepest insecurities, but you have to take a step back and really learn the full story.

I’m outspoken and I have opinions about things, but didn’t know how express them. Khmer Girls in Action (KGA) helped me to speak up more. I feel empowered to love who I am and appreciate my history and culture. I’m glad to have a place like KGA. If I didn’t, I don’t know how I would have turned out.

KGA offers college prep workshops where I can ask personal questions and get 1-on-1 support. I don’t think kids get told enough or encouraged to go to college because if we did, we would be thinking about college even before going into high school. Young people are forgotten or get left behind because they don’t have the support they need and instead it’s easy to fall into a “black hole” and not having a vision for their future. Everyone always asks what you want to do, but no one actually gives you the resources to figure out how to do what you want to do.

It’s empowering to know that I have a future and will go to college. I know you can’t get anywhere sometimes without a college education. And I know college is something my family would come together to support me on.

Get updates on your local youth development movement

More from Long Beach