A Need to Give Back

What is something about yourself that is essential to understanding you?


As a kid, I was always fascinated with my mother’s childhood. Living in California, the distant farm-life of Cambodia that she would tell me stories of seemed unimaginable. She would prop me up on her lap and paint pictures in dream-like verisimilitude of how she would climb trees to pick fruits or how she would play hide-and-seek in an ocean of rice fields. Themanner in which she would depict Cambodia would often be interrupted by a question that seemed to fall out of my lips with a thud---bringing her stories to a halt, “why did you leave Cambodia, Mom?” to which she would always respond: “you’ll find out when you’re older.” Throughout my teenage life overseas, the question that I would often ask my mother has been answered---illuminating more about my mother’s childhood than her recountings ever did. The gut-wrenching answer to why she left Cambodia has given me a conviction like survivor’s guilt, a guilt that has reverberated in my mind ever since I visited the Killing Fields at 14, leaving me to question as to how the world could be so unfair to many, but so “easy” for me. From then on, my conviction with restoring inequity in the world has defined a large part of who I am and the actions I take in my community. It is this...

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