Title: Oral History Interview with Kong Phok, December 19, 2000. Interview K-0273.
Interviewer: Lau, Barbara
Interviewee: Phok, Kong
Abstract: Kong Phok fled the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia with his family when he was very young, eventually arriving in Greensboro, North Carolina, at the age of nine. In this interview, he recalls adjusting to his new life in the United States, describing some of the cultural differences he encountered. He describes his work at Guilford Mills before the plant's owners moved it to Mexico. He recounts his struggles with discrimination at the mill, which he soon overcame, eventually earning a promotion to production manager. Conscious of his own good fortune, he treated his workers fairly and with kindness. This interview offers an instructive, if brief, look at North Carolina's mill industry from a different perspective: that of a recent immigrant to the state. It also offers insights into a Cambodian-American's effort to find a balance between his loyalty to his birthplace and his devotion to his adopted homeland.