"I was born in Cambodia, lived in a refugee camp from age three to five, and then moved to the United States when I was five years old.
I remember bits and pieces about the camp. I often think my memories might be a dream, but then I talk to someone else and they verify that my dream was a reality. I remember during that time there were American reporters and bombings. My mom remembers a lot of that and she has told me different stories.
I remember a little bit of the plane ride coming to America. We had a sponsor that lived in New York City. I remember that cold, November day stepping off the plane in San Francisco and waiting for our connecting flight to New York City. The weather in America was much colder than the weather in Cambodia's tropical climate. Someone gave me a big overcoat to keep me warm.
I remember going up the escalator and eating green grapes for the first time. Those are kind of funny memories to have.
We only lived in New York for about seven months before we moved to Lowell, Massachusetts. I lived in Lowell until I graduated from high school, and then I came to Utah to go to college."
"Growing up I did not feel a strong tie to the Cambodian culture. In Lowell there were a lot of Asians so I had a lot of Cambodian, Loas, and Thai friends. I didn’t have the benefit of some of the cultural things, for example, I didn’t go to the Wat which is the Cambodian Temples. I participated in some Cambodian things but I was not that connected.
When you are in America, you want to do American things. So, when I was in high school I partied with my friends, went to football games, and played basketball.
I am 43 years old now. I think when I hit 30 I had a light turn on and realized that I am American, but deep down inside I am also Cambodian and I need to learn my culture. About 10 years ago I started going to an LDS Cambodian branch. I began picking up the language a little bit more. Being in Utah there are not a lot of Cambodians, I speak a little bit of Cambodian, but not a lot. Going to the branch has been great. It has given me the opportunity to see the culture and connect me to my roots. In 2007 I visited Cambodia for the first time have gone back every three or four years since. I still have relatives that live in Cambodia and it is nice to connect with family.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve made that connection that yes, I live here in America but I have a culture on the other side of the world that is my heritage and where I am from.
I feel like I’ve lived the American dream getting an education and things that I’ve wanted. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science then went on for a master’s degree. Currently, I work for the LDS Church supporting IT efforts for the Family History Department. It’s been great blessing and a rewarding job so I love it. I’ve been doing it for about 10 years.
I am an only child and my parents were living back east and getting older. My mom is 70 and my step father is 75 so when we were looking to buy a house our criteria was to have a mother-in-law set up so they could come live with us and it’s been a blessing. I have two grown kids. I’ve got a daughter that is on a mission right now and I’ve got a son that is finishing high school and getting ready to go on a mission."
Refugee Camp: Kaoidang Camp & Kamput Camp
Current Location: United States
Family: mother, step-father, wife, two children
Occupation: IT Support