Wednesday, April 13, 2011

From the Killing Fields of Cambodia to Sweet Success in Texas

One of the best things I like about freelancing is the amazing, interesting and inspiring people I meet. For this week's article I interviewed Tong Sa Vaun, a Cambodian donut shop owner in West Texas.

It was an honor to visit with Tong and hear the incredible story of how as a 15-year-old he escaped the Khemr Rouge and began his American journey. Even better was to hear his take on life -- part zen and all donut.

Here's Tong's story that appeared in today's San Angelo Standard-Times.

And here's a special poem in honor of Tong and other survivors like him:

Waiter in a California Vietnamese Restaurant by Clarence Major


  1. Wonderful, Rashda! Thanks for sharing. Tong looks like someone I would enjoy getting to know. Love that he's a survivor and enjoying his new life.

  2. Rashda, thank you for that. When I lived on the West Coast, I had a friend who carried a picture of herself from those refugee camps when she was three years old. It's amazing what people can endure and go on to do.

  3. Great story, Rashda. Maybe one day I'll get to San Angelo and can sample one of Tong's donuts.

  4. Thanks all for visiting & I'm so glad you enjoyed the story. It's pretty neat when a story takes me by surprise and leaves me in complete awe.

    @L.J. Charles: you can visit whenever you want :)

  5. What a great story ......... I've been working with refugee families since 2001 (back then it was mostly Bosnian, Afghani and Liberians). These days they are mostly Iraqi, Somali and Bhutanese of Nepali origin.

    Being an immigrant myself, I know how hard it is to assimilate into a new culture even though I could speak english fluently, knew the pop culture fairly well and came from an economically comfortable home.

    In working with refugees I was inspired by the human spirit that enables us to continue even after living through the horrors that many refugees and asylum seekers live through. I wish Tong, his fiance and his family much more success in the coming future.

  6. Thanks Imrana. The work you do sounds fascinating and so needed. One of these days, I have to hang out with your & just shadow you :)

  7. Wonderful story, Rashda! Thanks for sharing it.