“The reason I’m going to school is to make up for lost time for my siblings, because they never had a chance,” says 38-year-old Thy Pech reflecting on his family days before he crossed the stage at CSULB to earn his M.A. in education. At the age of eight, Thy arrived in Long Beach with his mom, Ran, and three siblings after leaving Cambodia and spending about five years in refugee camps along the Thai-Cambodian border. Born into a time of violent political conflict, Thy credits his academic success and teaching career to his mother and family members who helped propel him toward a better life.
“The least I could do is give my children the opportunity that I didn’t have.”
“ My presence in the classroom felt right. ”
“The things my mom, my brother and my sisters did, were acts of kindness. There are no super-heroes, but that’s as close as you’re going to get.”
Photos by Joe Philipson