Title: Oral History Interview with Ran Kong, November 25, 2000. Interview K-0269.
Interviewer: Lau, Barbara
Interviewee: Kong, Ran
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.