Molly Kong, 30’s
Critical Care Registered Nurse and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Student
What racial, ethnic, cultural community or communities do you identify with?
Tell us about your family story.
My mother is from Battambang Cambodia and my father is from Phnom Penh - they immigrated to the US in the late 70’s and married in the late 80’s. I am the first born child between them - I was born in Lowell, MA. They divorced 2 years after I was born and I grew up in Springfield with my mother and Irish American stepfather. I have two brothers from my mother and stepfather's marriage and 2 sisters from my father and stepmother’s marriage.
I went to college to study pre-medicine and in my junior year, I went abroad to Thailand and for the first time in my life, I felt a connection to who I am as a Khmer American. In my journey after college, I struggled with the truths I avoided to face in terms of the pain that existed between my relationship with my mother and father, and so, my 20’s were spent unpacking that trauma and doing so through therapy and I’ve been able to come out of a deep depression and thoughts of suicide.
I am now a registered nurse working in critical care - most notably through this pandemic. In this last year, I chose to go back to school and pursue my masters in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing as I have found through my own personal work in therapy that I want to extend that knowledge and practice to my patients - most specifically to those who have a similar background to mine.
My hope is to eventually get my PhD in nursing to research the ways in which Khmer language and culture have influenced the healing that we as a community have and need to do moving forward. I came across your podcast as I recently launched a podcast of my own to solely connect with others on their own mental health and identity journey. I was so emotional hearing your voices! It made me feel heard and it only affirmed everything that has led me to his point in my life. Thank you for the work you do!
What are the strengths and challenges of being Asian and Khmer American?
Strengths: Coming from a background of resilience
Challenges: Finding your place in an American culture that doesn’t quite accept you or boxes you in places that most people can make sense of you and also straddling a culture your parents came from that also doesn’t quite accept you because you don’t “look” Khmer or speak Khmer. Being a woman and a person of color, I have to work harder to be taken seriously.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Taking ownership of my journey and coming to a place where I have chosen my life for me and not for my parents.
Reflecting on how you grew up, what did you learn or appreciate from your family?
I appreciate that they helped me to be independent and gave me the drive to “succeed” - they shaped my sense of humor and to always laugh, and though they’ve always said I take myself too seriously, I’m finally coming to understand what that means now.
Do you speak your family's native language? Why or why not?
Khmer was my first language, but when my parents divorced and I moved away to start school, English became my primary language.
What advice do you have for the younger generations in our communities?
Taking care of your mental health and choosing to unpack your trauma and your family’s trauma is hard work and it is very painful. But do not give up. You will find such beauty, love and forgiveness in your heart for everything you’ve lost and everything your family lost. If you feel lost, it’s ok.
You’re not alone and know that healing is on the way - you just have to ask and trust the process. Our parents' suffering does not need to be our suffering. We can choose to create the lives we are meant to live here and now, and make sure that their legacy is remembered by taking care of ourselves and each other.
What gives you the greatest joy in life?
My dogs, Tik Tok, food, traveling, reading/watching films that make me cry, creating ANYTHING, laughing.
Are there any projects you have created that you'd like to share and promote?
My podcast is Laughing Triggers My Asthma - a podcast geared towards unpacking my 20’s/mental health/relationships/career/coming into our authentic selves.
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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