Krystal M. Chuon, 20’s
San Francisco, CA
Current Role: Artist, Writer, and Social Media/Communications Manager for Rajana Threads
What racial, ethnic, cultural community or communities do you identify with?
Khmer & Khmer Krom.
When and how did your family come to the United States? Where were you born?
My family was sponsored to come to the US after living a year or so at the Khao-I-Dang refugee camp and arrived in Boston on September 8, 1981. In the summer of 1985, my family moved to San Francisco, California which is where I was born and raised.
What are the strengths and challenges of being Asian, Asian American, and/or Pacific Islander?
Being Khmer can often feel like being "invisible." I've encountered many people who has never heard of or can't pinpoint Cambodia on the map, nor are they aware of our history or why we arrived in the US in the first place. The model minority myth also adds to the invisibility because Khmers still struggle within the education system and still lack various resources/services. Other major issues like deportation is not well known outside of our community which in turn makes our fight against it a bigger challenge for us.
However, the Khmer/Krom community is strong and resilient. I'm inspired everyday to continue spreading awareness and history, fighting for my people in any way I can, and making sure our issues are known and heard.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
One of my proudest accomplishments was publishing my chapbook "Follow the Mekong Home" in 2018. I enjoyed the challenge and creative process, as self-publishing was a whole new world for me. It also made me feel more confident in my writing skills. I hope to continue publishing more writing!
What is one thing you learned or appreciate from your family growing up?
I appreciated learning about my family's stories growing up because it allowed me to comfortably connect to my culture and make sense of my Khmer identity at an early age.
Do you speak your family's native language? Why or why not?
I can speak Khmer, but I am not at all fluent! I think I was more fluent as a child and can understand more than I can speak it. I also learned the Khmer alphabet for a little bit with the Cambodian School of San Francisco, which in turn helped with my pronunciation a bit.
What advice do you have for the younger generations in our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander community?
My advice for Khmer/Krom youth is to carve your own path and do what you enjoy.
What gives you the greatest joy in life?
Seeing my community thriving and reaching various accomplishments!
Are there any projects you have created that you'd like to share and promote?
Follow my art journey on Instagram @krystalchuon.arts and shop my art and writings at: www.monyda.com/s/shop.
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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