The Macksey Journal


Philadelphia is a major resettlement area for thousands of Southeast Asian refugees, immigrants, and their families; however, there is little research and literature about these niche communities. The goal of this project was to examine the lives of Cambodian Americans in South Philadelphia, specifically the “Cambodia Town” neighborhood, through a critical research and creative writing lens. Through semi-structured interviews and participant observations in Cambodia Town, I explored themes such as family relationships in Cambodian American communities, intergenerational trauma from the Khmer Rouge, and the impact of Buddhism on the Cambodian American experience. Building upon these findings, I completed one novella and one adapted screenplay — both entitled Donut Boys written in the perspective of a Cambodian American man who returns to his hometown of South Philadelphia to help his family’s donut shop in the aftermath of his brother’s suicide. Ultimately, I utilized qualitative research skills and ethnographic fieldwork within Cambodia Town to produce a more nuanced representation of this ethnic community in my creative work.