Eang shares “Floating on Lotus Flowers” making way from a nightmare to peace


Katie McDermott

Mr. Eang posing for a picture at his desk.

Katie McDermott, Staff Writer

Over the course of Brandon Eang’s life, he went from living in terror under the Cambodian Genocide to becoming a Digital Media Arts teacher at Westford Academy. Westford Academy’s Anti-Defamation League reached out to Eang to see if he would like to share his story with students using his own documentary, Floating on Lotus Flowers on Friday Jan. 27.

“In the halls of WA, there are many hidden identities and stories and Mr. Eang’s story is one of them,” co-president of ADL Sophia Keang said. “We hope that his courage to share his story allows for more awareness about the people who we see everyday, who have stories that you don’t know yet, but are waiting to be heard.” 

In 1998, Eang was invited to share his story by a former executive director of Chelmsford Telemedia. They had originally agreed to shoot the documentary in the United States, but with the lack of resources and books on Cambodian history, they had to shoot it in Cambodia. This was an unpleasant surprise to Mr. Eang as he and his family did not want him to return to Cambodia because of political turmoil and unsafe happenings.  

“I was kind of reluctant, but I’m glad I went and it wasn’t all that bad,” Eang said. “[Except for] seeing the poverty and military presence that was kind of unnerving.” 

The title of this documentary has a very important meaning in Eang’s life as it is what he believes is the reason he is here today. The documentary title, Floating on Lotus Flowers, is a representation of when Mr. Eang was thrown into a pond during one of his most fragile times in his life. 

“You kind of gasp for air, you’re afraid of sinking, but there are overlays of the lotus petals and it is almost used as a cushion,” Eang said.   

Eang still finds it hard to watch the documentary because it feels like yesterday for him. He has gone back to Cambodia many times where he met his wife and visited family and he has felt that it is evolving in positive ways and the infrastructure is changing for the better. 

Even though Cambodia isn’t exactly the happiest place for Eang, the USA Cambodian Sports Association has seen Eang coach Westford Academy’s varsity volleyball team and has seen how successful they have been in the past. Due to his success in coaching Westford Academy’s team and being a fellow Cambodian, they offered him to join the board organizations with the Cambodian Volleyball Federation.

The USA Cambodian Sports Association asked the United States to recruit players outside of Cambodia to represent Cambodia as it is their first time hosting. After Eang ran the tryout at Westford Academy, he selected ten players that will be joining him in May for the Cambodian Women’s National Volleyball Team for the Southeast Asian Games. 

“It is going to be a short trip for me, roughly about eight days because I have to be here working,” Eang said. “My assistant coach will be out there a month before just to train the players and then I’ll go over and help coach.”

The ADL board organized the showing of this documentary to try to give a different perspective for the students and staff of WA.

“This year we have chosen to focus on the concept of identity, and identity is something that is both under and over the surface,” Keang said. “We wanted to bring to the forefront a story that most WA students haven’t heard yet, in hopes that it creates a more open and aware environment for everyone.”