PichMony Thay, 20’s
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
What racial, ethnic, cultural community or communities do you identify with?
Tell us about your family story.
Both of my parents are currently living in Cambodia.
Mom is Laotian-Khmer. Her family lives near the border of Cambodia-Lao and in Lao. She is currently working in an NGO that build schools in rural areas. My mom is a 3th generation Lao in Cambodia.
Dad is Chinese-Khmer. His family lives in Kompong Cham and in Stung Treng is where him and my mom live. He is a high school teacher. My dad is a 7th or 8th generation Chinese in Cambodia.
They both are not original Khmer but they have some Khmer blood and have been living in Cambodia for a long time so they are adapted to the culture.
What are the strengths and challenges of being Khmer-Laotian-Chinese?
A strength I would say is that we are very resilient, smart and durable. We can face a lot of things and still come out higher. The challenges are racism, double standards, discrimination and more.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Not wanting to kill myself anymore.
Reflecting on how you grew up, what did you learn or appreciate from your family?
I grew up in a mix of cultures that don't blend together very well.
From my dad's side with my Chinese family, I've learned the need to be perfect, to be the best child, brother, son and so on. I've learned to be strong as a diamond. To work, to be smart, to always give your best 10/10.
From my mom side with my Laotian family, I've learned to be more balanced because they were very Buddhist. I've learn to balance my Chinese side of always wanting to be the perfect one while also learning to let things go. You can follow traditions and also have fun.
The only thing that the two sides of my family has in common is that they are 1/2 Khmer. My Khmer side helps me mix the two cultures together. Both sides don't mix but they have complimented me well. To this day, I use all of parts of me in my work and in my personal life.
Do you speak your family's native language? Why or why not?
Yes, I speak Khmer because I live in Cambodia. I also speak Lao because a few years after I was born, they were still speaking Lao but then they stopped because they wanted me to be 100% Khmer (LOL). My dad's family speaks Cantonese and I couldn't pick it up. Somehow, I could only pick up Khmer and Lao.
What advice do you have for the younger generations in our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander community?
Communication gaps are hard to close but it is never impossible.
What gives you the greatest joy in life?
Knowing that I live every day for myself.
Knowing that there are people who trust me enough to let me help them.
Knowing that people believe in me and what I do.
Knowing that people, including my friends and family, are there for me even if they do not always agree with me.
Are there any projects you have created that you'd like to share and promote?
Yes, Noggin Notes and People-មនុស្ស. Links are below.
Noggin Cambodia Facebook
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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!
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