At the Eastern Transit

I’ve never really had much friends that happen to be Khmer. The irony is that I want to work in Cambodia in the social work district. It’s not to say I make an effort to be an outsider, that’s completely wrong. Instead, I have noticed a lot of Khmer teenagers, adults and even children think in a whole different way to me. It’s perplexing.

Maybe a part of it is my interest within music, it’s quite eclectic to say, not the modernized attempts of hip-hop today. Maybe my sexuality, let’s face it Cambodia is not exactly liberal and left wing. Cambodians are undoubtedly a conservative group of people, born and bred in the giving nature that Theravada Buddhism offers. To meet a humble Khmer is blissfully common. The trade with that is that many Cambodians tend to hide their inner thoughts preferring to keep the masses appeased.

While technically I’m only Khmer through my grandfather on my mother’s side, the rest of my family otherwise being Chinese originating from the Guangzhou region, these Khmer identity is the strongest sense I have to rival my Australian upbringing. It gives me hope that I have in my blood the inner workings of the Khmer Empire that built Angkor Wat and ruled across much of what is modern South East Asia. The beauty of it, much like Laos is that it is a country still swimming in its ancient glamour, a relic among more Westernised nations. It’s simple things like this that allows me to cherish announcing my heritage. The pride I feel is marvelous.

At the same time, the guilt I have in the corruption and injustice played out currently within Cambodia is disgusting. That Cambodia has suffered so much through it’s modern era is disturbing. To say that I’m Khmer and ignore it’s current state is an act of hypocrisy. This is why I want to know more of what Cambodia is. I want to read about it’s history, the demographics, ethnicities, provinces, locations, customs, languages and so much more.

It’s funny that my father relates to being Chinese more. He mind you lacks Khmer blood as both his parents are of Chinese origin. But when you grow up in Cambodia, you think like a Cambodian. I believe you are just as much of a group if you think like them, regardless of your ethnicity

I think for what Cambodia means to me, is what does it mean to be Khmer. I want to know how to think Khmer. I want to be able to alternate and think as an Australian and a Khmer all the same. This is the challenge

I wonder then, what does it mean to be Khmer for you? Or Chinese? Or Australian? Or whatever you are? What propels you to succeed.

Oct 13
The Factor in Heritage