Iran Thongdy, 30's
Current Role: Antioch University Seattle Graduate Student (School of Applied Psychology)
What racial, ethnic, cultural community or communities do you identify with?
When and how did your family come to the United States? Where were you born?
Mom was a Cambodian refugee and dad was a Laotian refugee who arrived in the United States in 1980. I was born in 1990 in Everett, WA and spent the first year in a low income housing, Parkside.
What are the strengths and challenges of being Asian, Asian American, and/or Pacific Islander?
- Strengths: Unique perspective on the world. See it through the lens of not only an Asian person but also as an American.
- Weaknesses: The corporate world is dominated by white culture. For me, when I entered the corporate world, I didn’t understand how to function within it. For example, I noticed small talk and wittiness being a part of every day “white conversations.” That wasn’t the case with my family. I essentially had to just dive in and learn the language of the corporate white man. It was tough.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Being accepted into my Master's Program in Mental Health Counseling.
What is one thing you learned or appreciate from your family growing up?
[Having a] very understanding family who genuinely cared about what made me happy and a person. My family seemed to go against the grain of the whole “My family wants me to be a doctor" type of asians. They didn't have a chip on their shoulder and they were just happy to be away from the violence in their homeland. I'm glad to have had the privilege to pursue aspirations with the support of my family.
Do you speak your family's native language? Why or why not?
Yes, I speak Laotian with my parents. More so English. I'll speak our native tongue when I really want my parents to listen to me.
What advice do you have for the younger generations in our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander community?
My advice to the younger Asian generation in our community is to be open to the people you hang out with, regardless of race or political affiliations as differing perspectives are important. However, don't forget about your roots. Be proud of it. :)
Understand the struggles and the sacrifices your family made to get to the United States. Ask them questions about their journey. Ask them about their childhood. Ask them about their favorite food growing up This helps develop compassion for your family and appreciation for your roots.
Dominant white culture is strong. I say this because this dominant culture WILL consciously or subconsciously shame us. For example, eating our native food. Commenting on the stench and foreignness. Staying connected with your roots help with reducing the triggering effects of the shame that comes with the dominant white culture.
What gives you the greatest joy in life?
Connecting with people on a deep level.
Are there any projects you have created that you'd like to share and promote?
Here's my Spotify page. Laotian American Singer-Songwriter :)
If you would like to share your voice as a person of color, please read the directions and fill out this form here. All ages, backgrounds, and generations welcome. Thank you!
Who are we?
Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander voices in our communities.
This is a section for AAPI specifically because, coming from our Khmer culture, we often feel invisible in various spaces from school to the media.
We want to show the ways in which we are the same and different, and that all of our backgrounds and experiences are valuable to learn and celebrate. Let's uplift each other!
Want to share your voice?
To be featured, read the directions and fill out this form. All ages, backgrounds, and generations welcome.
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