What was your upbringing like and how has it affected who you are today?
As a daughter of two Cambodian refugees, the two life lessons that were ingrained in me as I was growing up were success and independence. These life lessons were taught and carried out subtly through my parents’ choices to send me to a small, private, Christian school, with hopes of giving me a better education and future, and by their free-spirited parenting style, which often allowed me to decide a variety of things on my own—whether that be what I wanted to eat, what instruments I wanted to play, what I wanted to do besides playing an instrument, or how I wanted to spend my free time. I know what you’re thinking—This doesn’t sound like your typical Asian tiger parents. And they definitely weren’t. What for the longest time felt like absence in my life was simply that my parents were working tirelessly at our family doughnut shop in an effort to continue sending my two older sisters and I to private school. Although this created tension and resentment growing up, my parents’ two life lessons were impressed in me. Their hard work and desire for my happiness, intermingled with their willingness to give me independence, because they themselves lacked the opportunity of happiness and independence growing up, instilled in me a definition of success beyond worldly success and materialistic goods, even if it may have been a long, hard, and even ongoing journey to understanding that.
Today, I’m especially thankful for AAIV, the community I’ve found here (shoutout to Elm Women's SG <3), and my experience at Fall Con for reinforcing and contributing to my journey and my walk with God. I grew up around rather typical molds of the Chinese-American, which fueled a lot of resentment with my family, tension with my peers and created confusion with my own ethnic identity as a Chinese-Cambodian American. However, one question Pastor Drew Jackson posed at Fall Con that really stuck with me is—How is ignoring or rejecting our ethnic identity honoring God? Followed by Psalm 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;” This question and verse really struck me and challenged me in my faith and how I initially perceived my ethnic identity. I am forever thankful and I am especially looking forward to more events with AAIV that will continue to challenge who I am and my relationship with God.