Author and poet Maya Angelou said, “To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.”
On Saturday, February 20, 2016, the Khmer Parent Association and Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, 70th District, co-hosted the very first of its-kind Mother and Daughter Conference (MDC) in Long Beach. CA. The purpose of MDC was to build, develop and strengthen relationships across cultures, create friendly dialogue, connect and share experiences as one community. Long Beach is a very diverse city with people from many different ethnic backgrounds and different cultures, each with a rich heritage to share with one another. It is the mother-daughter relationship that keeps the culture and heritage alive. A strong mother-daughter bond creates a strong daughter who in turn will be a great mother. Strong mothers will create strong families and strong families will create a strong community.
There were over 130 diverse participants ranging from African American, Latino, Caucasian and Cambodian descent in attendance, including volunteers. The program started with a lively welcome from our popular Master of Ceremony, Mr. Charles Song, followed by the National Anthem performed by the beautiful sisters, Merry and Eliana Touch. The highlight of that morning were the mothers and daughters of four different ethnic backgrounds who answered deeply personal questions about their mother-daughter relationships. Dr. Leakhena Heng was a wonderful facilitator who warmly asked each panelist to share their stories and experiences between mother and daughter that reflected their daily relationships. Their candid answers captivated the attention of the audience very much because their stories and experiences were common in their own families, too.
This conference was a success because of the hard work of many different people and organizations. An old African saying stated, “It takes a village to raise a child.”
This precious statement is true when it comes to doing something collectively to benefit a community of different ethnic groups. We would like to thank Allison Gallagher from the office of Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, who supported the idea of a Mother and Daughter Conference from the beginning and constantly worked with us to keep Asm. Patrick O’Donnell posted about the event, Assemblymember Cristina Garcia, 58th District, our featured keynote speaker, the Honorable Lori Woods, Vice-Mayor of Signal Hill, the Cambodian Advocacy Collaborative, Kimthai Kuoch from CAA, Kiry Kravanh, CAA staff, Susana Sgniem from UCC, Lindsay Grevacio, Families In Good Health, Lillian Herrera from the Imaging Center, Vattana Peong from The Cambodian Family Center in Santa Ana, Dr. Farah Naz Khaleghi from the Long Beach Community Improvement League, Jennifer Chau from A3PCON, Julie Meenan from the Josephine S. Gumbiner Foundation, Chef Sophy Khut from Sophy’s Restaurant, Puthy Hang Davison, Dance Instructor, Dr. Ramon Geluz from American Career College, Marth Cota from Latinos In Action, Marilyn Tran from the Center for the Pacific Asian Family, Candace Yamagawa, OC Credit Union, Thida Kol, Daniel Chan, M.D., Dr. Christine Petit and Laura Merryfield from the LB Building Healthy Communities, Darith Ung, Khmer Language Teacher at Wilson H.S., Visal Nga, D.O., Sony Som, Toshiro Obara, Ladine and his wonderful EM3 Team and Veasna Mai, our own photographer, Daniel Tran, Kanika Prom who led the Khmer Mother and Daughter Intergenerational Leadership Team to create beautiful centerpieces that depict the love and connections of mothers and daughters, Angelina Tran for her amazing illustration for the centerpieces.
Our special thanks to all four mother and daughter panelists whose dialogue during the panel discussion provided insights to the audience about how the bond, trust, connection, relationship and understanding between mother and daughter can create magic to build a strong and happy family.
Lastly, we would like to commend all Mothers and Daughters in the Khmer Mother and Daughters Intergenerational Leadership Training (KMDILT) program for their growth in leadership development, for their hard work in planning and organizing, for their effort to outreach to the community and to encourage other mothers and daughters to get involved in the conference.
The event was concluded at 3pm with closing remarks from Dr. Farah Naz Khaleghi, the acknowledgements by Dr. Leakhena Heng and Vanndearlyn Vong followed by the door prize raffle with Vattana Peong and our MC, Mr. Charles Song. Both of them made this closing step fun and enjoyable for everyone. We also had a final group picture with the remaining participants wearing their Mother Daughter Conference Souvenir T-shirts.