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Oral History Interview with Ran Kong, November 25, 2000. Interview K-0269. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Ran Kong immigrated to Greensboro, North Carolina, from Cambodia when she was four, knowing little about her home country but less about her new one. She transitioned well, finding a balance between being an American resident and a Cambodian national. She learned English and performed well in school, but thrived at the Greensboro Buddhist Center, where she played with other Cambodians. She spent time with "Americanized" Cambodians, but her family maintained its ties to Cambodian culture. Even as she became the liaison between the non-English speaking Cambodian community and their American surroundings, escorting family members and others to doctor visits, or helping them figure out their health insurance, she maintained a strong connection to her native home. This sense of connection may have only strengthened as Kong grew older, and it flourished when she was challenged, as at the relatively homogeneous Salem College, where she found a passionate commitment to her heritage. By the time this interview took place, Kong had become an American citizen, and at age twenty, had voted for the first time. But she became a citizen for convenience, not conviction. Kong reflects on her life and her identity in this interview, as well as considering the wider Cambodian community and the endurance of Cambodian traditions in a new context.
    Excerpts
  • A Cambodian family finds a place in American culture, but holds fast to their heritage
  • Close relationship between granddaughter and grandmother in a Cambodian home
  • A Cambodian immigrant faces discrimination
  • Learning English in an ESL class
  • Limited exposure to non-Cambodians for a Cambodian immigrant
  • A family teaches discipline and comportment
  • A daughter serves as translator for her Cambodian family, then her community
  • A desire to maintain her connection to Cambodian culture
  • A Cambodian daughter and her father face discrimination
  • Finding ways to learn about Cambodia
  • Cambodian dance tranforms Kong into an ambassador
  • Embracing Cambodian cultural identity in a majority-white setting
  • Religion, history, and values are key to maintaining Cambodian identity
  • Becoming an American citizen for convenience
  • Cambodian parents are often much more strict than their American counterparts
  • Kong's values clash with those of her father
  • Misconceptions and misunderstandings about Asians by white Americans
  • Cambodian immigrants would return home if they could
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  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.