Doe Kpaw So Paw
Audio Recording of Interview
Doe Kpaw So Paw, a 17 year old Karen refugee living in Utica, talks about her difficulty adjusting to life in upstate New York after moving there from a Thai refugee camp at a young age, facing bullying and discrimination. Fighting within her family and the racism she faced in school contributed to struggles with mental health for Doe Kpaw, but she still has hopes for the future – including a goal of opening an environmentally-friendly clothing store.
Other interviews of this person can be found below:
Narrator: Doe Kpaw So Paw
Date: Midtown Utica Community Center, NY
Content Warning: Mention of genocide and killing. Also a discussion of bullying and depression.
Summary: Doe Kpaw So Paw, a 17 year old Karen refugee living in Utica, talks about her difficulty adjusting to life in upstate New York after moving there from a Thai refugee camp at a young age, facing bullying and discrimination. Fighting within her family and the racism she faced in school contributed to struggles with mental health for Doe Kpaw, but she still has hopes for the future – including a goal of opening an environmentally-friendly clothing store.
Topics: Childhood, immigration process, cultural adjustment, historical context, identity, religion, mental health, race, family, conditions back home, food, future
Section 1: (00:00-1:51)
Childhood, immigration process- Doe Kpaw (17 years old) is from a refugee camp in Thailand called Umpiem. Parents were arguing about where to immigrate to. Doe Kpaw was only 5 or 6 and remembers being confused at the sudden travel and move.
Section 2: (1:52-2:36)
Cultural adjustment - Didn't like Utica at first. When she came here, it was snowing and cold. She also didn't see a lot of her people there. Hard to adapt, not a lot of Karen people.
Historical context, identity - Gives background on the Karen people from Burma. Talks about how they were kicked out of Burma and about the long-lasting war. Explains that many of their people moved to Thailand to survive and said that it was a genocide.
Section 3: (2:37-3:43)
Religion - When asked about the religion of the Karen people, Doe Kpaw says that they're mostly Christian but some are Buddhist. She didn't think that religion played a big role in her family's resettlement.
Section 4: (3:44-8:55)
Cultural adjustment, childhood, mental health, race, family- Was the only Asian student on her first day of school, bullied during elementary school years and didn't feel like she belonged. Family fighting as well (financial problems and trust issues between parents). She had depression growing up as a result.
Childhood, family, conditions back home, food - Was poor growing up and didn't have a lot to eat but was happy and liked the freedom of the camp when her father wasn't home (this also gave her mother more freedom).
Family - Oldest child (has one younger brother and one younger sister). Because she was older when she came here (entering first grade), she had a lot harder of a time adjusting than her younger siblings did. The environment of school was an anxious space for her.
Section 5: (8:56-9:54)
Future - Doe Kpaw wants to be able to open her own clothing line or store, specifically one which helps the environment by up-cyling clothes.