Mylo Lam, 30’s
Current Role: Digital Content Director at PBS KIDS & Writer
What racial, ethnic, cultural community or communities do you identify with?
Southeast Asian American, Vietnamese, Cambodian.
When and how did your family come to the United States? Where were you born?
My grandfather was sponsored by his employer, an American oil company, for us to come to the United States in 1989 - we were placed in Utica, NY. I was born in Saigon, Vietnam.
What are the strengths and challenges of being Southeast Asian American?
You really get to see and understand America for what it historically is: A nation of immigrants trying to find ways to live and thrive together. Being a BIPOC, you are confronted with that realization every day, and you can feel that you have the power to shape it.
The challenge is that there are societal restrictions put in place that make you feel perpetually inferior; a prison is constructed around your existence and then you build a smaller, inner prison to protect yourself from the outer.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
I'm not sure if it's my proudest accomplishment but certainly the most recent: I made a short film based on my mom's escape from Cambodia to Vietnam during the Khmer Rouge.
What is one thing you learned or appreciate from your family growing up?
How the six of us managed to live in a two-bedroom apartment.
Do you speak your family's native language? Why or why not?
Very, very poorly. My family speaks several languages at home, and I never picked up one language well enough - maybe Vietnamese. I moved out of the house when I went to college, so I lost a lot of my native tongue. There was also a part of me that felt like I had to make a choice: Learn English well enough to go somewhere in this world or stay foreign.
What advice do you have for the younger generations in our Southeast Asian American community?
I don't particularly believe in advice because I am no more wise than the younger generations. With the knowledge that I have picked up, I have also lost so much that the younger generation holds onto. There is much to learn from them that humbles me.
I suppose if I were to speak to my younger self, I'd tell him to spend time closing his eyes, allow his mind to go blank, and start writing. Trust yourself - write until it aches and write until you lose yourself.
What gives you the greatest joy in life?
A good, short poem with a cortado.
Are there any projects you have created that you'd like to share and promote?
Ma’s Canh Chua Recipe: April - December 1975
If you would like to share your voice as a person of color, please read the directions and fill out this form here. All ages, backgrounds, and generations welcome. Thank you!
Who are we?
Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander voices in our communities.
This is a section for AAPI specifically because, coming from our Khmer culture, we often feel invisible in various spaces from school to the media.
We want to show the ways in which we are the same and different, and that all of our backgrounds and experiences are valuable to learn and celebrate. Let's uplift each other!
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