Khmer Girls In Action Yellow Lounge

Angel Kea, Christine Rom, Bonita Peov and Alisha Sim perform a traditional Khmer dance at KGA's Yellow Lounge in 2012.

Simply sitting on the sidelines in silence is not an option for members of the Khmer Girls In Action group, organizers say.

“We really believe in the power of storytelling,” said Justine Calma, media and program coordinator. “It is important to be able to voice our experiences.”

There will be an opportunity for just that from 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, at the Long Beach School for Adults, 3701 E. Willow St. The event is called the Yellow Lounge Showcase — this is its ninth year.

“It’s a big event we host every year where we highlight the stories of our youth,” Calma said. “What are the challenges they face and how do they overcome those challenges?”

Khmer Girls In Action’s mission statement is to build a progressive and sustainable Long Beach community that works for gender, racial and economic justice, led by Southeast Asia and Khmer young women. The local nonprofit has been based out of Long Beach since 1997. It serves about 60 youth (typically high school aged) during a full year, Calma said, and it is affiliated with clubs at Wilson and Poly high schools.

“A lot of times, there are stereotypes that Asian Americans have lots of resources and are all well off, when actually there are people that may need help,” she said. “We want to highlight their problems and their strengths. We have afterschool programs for our youth where they grow leadership skills and lead campaigns in the community.”

There will be about 25 youth involved with the Yellow Lounge Showcase. The theme this year is “Like a Lotus, We Rise.” The theme refers to the lotus flower, which grows in muddy water. The seed must be planted in the bottom of the pond, and then the vine must climb above to bloom in the sunlight.

“We see this ability to bloom despite difficult circumstances,” Calma said.

The showcase will include visual arts, music, dance, poetry and theater. Much of the work will allude to either healthcare access or school discipline causes that Khmer Girls In Action is fighting for.

“It’s a show and also an art gallery,” Calma said. “We want people to come out and learn more and to also become more engaged in our work in the community.”

For more information on the group and showcase, visit

Jonathan Van Dyke can be reached at

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