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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Ran Kong, November 25, 2000. Interview K-0269. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

A desire to maintain her connection to Cambodian culture

Kong's family did not allow her to assimilate into American culture quite as completely as some other Cambodian parents did their children, Kong explains. She missed going to the mall with friends, but at the time of the interview felt that these friends were cut off from the Cambodian community, something she would never want for herself.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Ran Kong, November 25, 2000. Interview K-0269. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

BARBARA LAU:
So at that point you weren't really sort of thinking, oh, this is sort of who I am, or this is about who I am. Was there any of that message in your dance instruction?
RAN KONG:
I think at that point it was just starting, everything was just starting to fall into place. My father, my parents are starting to tell me more a little bit about their experiences. And, the monk himself would always say, well, you know, I've started this because I know it's important for Cambodian kids to have this, to be able to like remember this. So I knew that it was important, but still, I hadn't really focused on why it was important for me yet. So I think that didn't really hit until like a little bit older.
BARBARA LAU:
High school?
RAN KONG:
Probably like eighth grade, ninth grade. But at the same time, I think in a way it was accumulating. I was slowly working my way towards I guess like full awareness. So at the same time, though, in middle school, my two Cambodian friends, it was nice that they were there, in a way I guess, like growing up, because it was always like, okay these—they're Cambodians, but they're different from me. They would have more freedoms from me. They can go to the mall with their American friends and shop or whatever. And they can go spend the weekend at each other's house. And they can even come and spend the weekend at my house. But for my parents, it was always like, well, I can never go over to their place. And so it was always like, they're Cambodian girls too, Dad, so why? And, he'd launch into this long lecture about you know, this is what's right, and this is what's wrong. So what they're doing is wrong? No, it's not wrong, but we'd just really like for you not to do it. And at school, I guess just like in terms of like our friends, always the fact that they were always more American than me. Like so they always like I guess like fit in more. But at the same time, I don't know, it was just weird, because seeing us then and seeing us now, it really makes sense, how our different upbringing, how differences in our parents' views have changed, you know— have sort of led us onto the different paths that we now live. We're all in college at different places, but I'm still here with the Cambodian community, which is what my parents always stressed and always wanted. And whereas they, whose parents didn't really stress you know, the importance, are just fine isolated from the Cambodian community, which I could never deal with.
BARBARA LAU:
They're more Americanized.
RAN KONG:
They're more Americanized, definitely.