I’m 16 years old and I am Cambodian-American. My parents are refugee immigrants and also survivors who push me to get a good education and not waste time. My parents give me freedom when it comes to being involved and active in my community which is one reason why I joined Khmer Girls in Action.
I grew up as an introverted person because I felt the pressure of having to fit the Asian stereotype. Since I joined KGA I was inspired to look outside the box that society can put us in. I learned more about my Cambodian history and how strong my parents had to be to survive war and start a new life in a new country. After seeing how many members were able to speak so effortlessly about our community and our campaigns, I was inspired to do the same.
KGA opened up many opportunities for me to lead such as the Building Healthy Communities youth committee where I work with youth from other organizations in Long Beach. KGA supported me with transportation to events like the inauguration march, the pride parade, or trips to UC Davis & Sacramento to talk to legislators about the bills we need passed. Every opportunity I have, whether its door knocking for campaign data or a large march, I help. At every event, I find out new information to bring back and implement in my community.
My biggest focus is to advocate for a youth development center for organizations like KGA to help youth, so that they have a safe place to go and don’t struggle alone with their problems. One day there will be this big place where youth can go to get help, find yourself and see what your life potentially can be. I would like to be a mentor at that center.
Today, I am hopeful for my future. I plan on majoring in nursing or youth development. I want to be a registered nurse because my aunt passed away 2 days before school started from breast cancer. I saw how busy the nurses were in the nights before she passed and how my aunt was struggling, she cared for other bus she needed to be checked on more often. I want to be on the cancer floor and help patients feel better.
My perspective of youth organizing has changed because at first, I only joined KGA as a place to use my free time, but now, this campaign has opened my eyes to the power that youth have to change things and fight for what we need. Many adults say we are too young and ageism is a big issue. Being part of a youth organization has allowed me to make my mark, share my opinion, and advocate for myself.