The 2 Khmerican Sisters, Mellissa and Jasmine Nguon, are Cambodian-American Podcasters from the Pacific Northwest, specifically the Occupied Duwamish Territory (Seattle, WA). Mellissa and Jasmine have a passion for social activism, leadership development, and creating inspirational and educational content. As mid- to senior-level working professionals, they wanted to give back in a special way to the People of Color (PoC) communities by creating a digital platform to share important stories and celebrate the unique journeys of diverse community leaders around the globe. Mellissa and Jasmine are motivated to inspire and empower others to find confidence in themselves and their community, and to engage in deeper conversations with those around them.
What inspired you to start your community work/organization?
Jasmine: We felt inspired to spread our voices as Khmer Americans on urgent topics like race and mental health, and to share our personal and family's stories. This evolved into wanting to use our platform to highlight other PoCs! We believe that everyone has words of wisdom to offer to the world and this project was a way that we can help increase PoC representation in the podcasting and social media space.
Mellissa: We wanted to speak up and talk about issues that relate to our PoC communities. These are topics that are often taboo, not widely discussed, and pertain specifically to our Southeast Asian American background. Podcasting is an opportunity for us to deepen our sisterly bond, but also connect with and inspire others who look and sound like us to explore creative work and give back in a unique way.
Why is the work you do through your platform so important?
Jasmine: We hope that our platform allows people to feel seen and heard, as we did not see many Khmer American influencers at the time we started our platform. We have received positive feedback from our listeners who are interested to engage in deeper conversations with their friends and family around topics like the Khmer Rouge Genocide and intergenerational trauma.
Mellissa: I think it's important for the podcasting platform to have more diversity. We have important stories to share, and who else better to tell them but ourselves? Instead of waiting for someone to do it, we decided to take a risk and start recording. We hear from our listeners all the time that what we share is inspirational, and it encourages them to have conversations with their own families. We hope to see more Cambodian Americans do great things!
What is your favorite dish? Is there a story behind it?
Jasmine: My favorite family dish is a Khmer soup called, "Somlor Machu Youn" that has sour, sweet, and salty notes from the warm broth, seafood, and vegetables. My mom made it pretty often throughout my childhood, ever since I told her that it was my favorite Khmer soup. It tastes delicious mixed in with warm rice, and it was always made with care since my mom knew that I loved it every time she made it for the family.
Mellissa: My favorite dish is "kadiew with jaoquay". It's a savory beef noodle soup but I especially love it with Chinese fried donuts. I have very fond memories growing up of enjoying kadiew with my family in the Seattle International District. Even as an adult, I enjoyed a bowl of this noodle soup with my family in Cambodia when I met them for the first time. It is filling and satisfying.
What does courage mean to you?
Jasmine: Courage means doing something even when you are afraid and uncomfortable to do so. Courage means strength.
Mellissa: Courage means understanding that if you move past what you fear, what you'll achieve is something greater and more meaningful. It is an empowering feeling to have this realization and accept that your mission is bigger than yourself.
Where can we expect to see you in the next few years?
Jasmine: With our platform, we hope to have more speaking opportunities and to stay connected with our Khmer community in Seattle, potentially finding ways to connect with the youth to share our journeys through college, work, and life. I plan to keep up with my Khmer language studies to be able to read, write, and speak more fluently. I will be a veteran teacher and aim to mentor pre-service teachers throughout the next few years! My personal goals are to continue taking care of my health, maintaining work-life balance to spend quality time with my family and friends, and traveling as much as I can! Life is too short.
Mellissa: In a few years, we hope to have a larger presence and a growing diverse following. We would love to be more involved in our local communities. Knowing who we are, we will always have new goals and ambitions and things we want to achieve. We are passionate about giving back and helping others succeed. We hope to continue leaning into the social media space and exploring new and creative ideas.
Thank you so much Mellissa & Jasmine for sharing your story with us! Tuk Tuk Box is proud to exclusively feature Southeast Asian ingredients and include refugee, migrant, and generational stories in every box.
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