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Diaspora & Initiative: Passing on Khmer culture with khemarakids

Most of the people who follow Khemarakids on Instagram probably think of a grouping of Cambodians who want to transmit our culture. Yet Khemarakids is only represented by a single woman, and the various roots.

With an account today in full growth, the Followers- USA until Cambodia begin to appreciate this Instagram devoted to the transmission of Khmer culture. As a result, discover together, for our series of atypical portraits, which is the last Khemarakids character.

Brandy Myers teaching khmer dance
Brandy Myers teaching khmer dance

Brandy Myers is a Khmerican from Columbus in Ohio and resident in Long Beach California. Evolving since birth in a multicultural environment (including daily food from multiple influences) It has grown up in an environment impregnated by Khmer culture.

Khmer culture remains strong in your construction. Can you explain to us at what level?

Mainly through mom. Khmer music remained present everywhere in our life, from home to the car, or whenever it was possible.

Towards your 8 years, like many of us, you like to do karaoke. The latter becomes a trigger to the learning of the Khmer. Tell us this anecdote.

At that time Karaoke remains one of my favorite activities and through the latter, I began to assimilate texts to sounds and videos; I learned my first Khmer writings.

With her mother
With her mother

You also talk to me about a few anecdotes about your Blasian physique. Could you develop the subject?

Being Blasianne remains a feature to which I did not really pay attention ... - For I am what I am - but the company categorized me as such. And unfortunately growing up, I received - and mainly on the part of the Khmer community - reflections insisting on the fact that for them, I was not really Cambodian ... I was nicknamed "Kmao"

…but these anecdotes sometimes, finally became my trigger to invest even more in the Khmer community!

Conscious that Cambodia is a big part of your being, you decide in their twenties from alone to discover the srok. What were your first impressions?

It was at first glance a real cultural shock, but I paradoxically felt a great ease.

At the Srok
At the Srok

It also allowed me to better understand my mother and what she had had to go through leaving her country under the Khmer Red.

The poverty of some and the difficulty of accessibility to teaching for all worries. You will end up starting back to create Khemarakids. Explain to us this decision

I have always had this desire to give back to Cambodia and the Cambodian community from a very young age, I did not know how. Coming from a mother who has become orphan and has never had the opportunity to follow a formal education in Cambodia because of the war, I wanted to give back to Cambodian children through education in one way or another.

Working with kids
Working with kids

I thought of building a school for the disadvantaged Khmers children of rural villages like the one my mother is from Kampong Chhnang, one day when I would have the funds to do it.

How do you choose school supplies or songs or other items offered on your Instagram page?

I prioritize small businesses in Cambodia while trying to find quality products and make the Khmer 's learning fun and interesting.

We also see a lot of traditional dances. What is the place of dance in your life?

The Khmer dance remains my passion since my childhood just as my love for Khmer music. I have always been fascinated by Khmer dance since a youngest age. When I moved to California, I met the Khmer community of Long Beach and I started learning Khmer dance with the Khmer Arts Academy, who has closed.

I dance and now teach toddlers with modern Apsara company, led by my good friend Mea Lath
I dance and now teach toddlers with modern Apsara company, led by my good friend Mea Lath

Today you also started a new approach with children: stories told each weekend. Explain this approach

Indeed I now propose weekly and with the Hill Signal Public Library a program titled Khmer Story Time all Saturday morning at 11am.

For all ages, for about 45 minutes, I read short stories in Khmer for children and their families
For all ages, for about 45 minutes, I read short stories in Khmer for children and their families

Songs and activities are also available. Parents can bring their children to listen to Khmer stories and learn by the same a little Khmer every week.

What would be the project that would be most hearty for the Cambodian community (if you could)?

As previously mentioned, education remains my spearhead (in order to offer opportunities that have never been available for my mother in his generation or mine) and Khmer-centered language and culture education.

Lastly, what are your best memories for this recent adventure?

Simply being able to connect with all families and children Khmers and to see everyone kissing our roots and our culture

By Chantha R ( Francoise framboise)

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