Singath Thi: :09 Well, my name is Singath Thi. My brother and I are a year apart and we go to high school together and through the whole 4 year of high school from ’89-92, both of us do really well in school. :27 and we’re pretty close. We’re not like cats and dogs. And he do his own thing and I do my own thing. I do like sports: volleyball and badminton. He’s into wrestling.
He have friends. He hang out after school. And I guess maybe he just started hanging around with the wrong friends. :51 like after school. I mean, he helps my dad on the weekend. That’s the only time he works is on Saturday and Sunday, like 8 hours doing gardening work with my dad’s business. And I guess when he start hanging around with the wrong friends and friends from Oakland, and then meeting with the girls and having girlfriends, he just start cutting school for a little bit and I guess that’s when he start getting in trouble and people start showing him how to steal cars and 1:29 stereos and that he start getting in trouble in 16 y.o. That’s when he start doing bad stuff. But he still doing good in school
1:45 WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT CAMBODIA AND LEAVING
1:59 I remember when we were back in C I think in the early or mid ‘70s. I was 6 y.o. and I remember my mom was having a baby with my sister Mary. She’s 28 right now. And I remember we traveling by feet and my dad would carry my sister Mary and my brother probably like 2 and my sister, she just born. And in a bucket, my sister and I would walk. And we would walk through mud and I remember seeing dead body and skeleton and mud and we would. And then the mines. From a distance, I can hear mines blasting, when the mine explode. Someone step on the mine. 2:55 And they’re dead and their feet cut in half. I remember that and my dad would discuss about that, too.
And then we have to hide. We travel at night and we hide during the day so that the Khmer Rouge won’t kill us.
3:20 DID YOU KNOW WHO THE KHMER ROUGE WAS
3:23 Back then, I wasn’t really clear. I know they’re bad person or bad men. They would kill us if they caught us. Because they don’t want us to leave. They want anything we have: gold or money. They would take it away from us. If you were educated, they would shoot you. 3:40 If you’re a really educated person, you have to act like you’re farmers or not educated if you’re a doctor or lawyer or teacher or nurse they would kill you.
3:55 WERE YOU HUNGRY WHEN YOU WERE ESCAPING
4:00 My dad said when we’re really thirsty, we had cloth and we all the mud, the dirty water. We would squeeze it, get the water out from that cloth. Yeah, that’s the most I remember. That’s what my dad told me. That we drink from the mud water. You know, 4:23 you put the water and squeeze it and the drip of water would come out and drink from that.
4:32 The cloth was for the filter for the drinking water. Yes. So that’s what my dad was discussing. That’s how we drink. He’s a pretty tough man. 4:43 My dad. A little man, but pretty tough. He struggle…exactly the same way as the Killing Field.
5:00 WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT COMING TO THE US
5:07 The main point to escape from C to the border of Thailand refugee camp was so they could pick us because we heard rumor that they could help us with food and clothing. And if you have family in US, you would be sponsored and go to the US. This is all rumor. That’s why my dad is escaping. That your kid would be educated and have a good job. Have a good place to live. That’s why he wants to get away.
And then we lucky that his uncle, his older brother, married to a Thai lady and she has a family with the army military. They came to the US in the ‘70s. 5:47 So we kinda related because my uncle married to her and then so we’re family. So we got sponsored by her family. The Thai family.
5:58 EXPLAIN DAD’S BELIEF IN US
6:07 My dad believed that in America, all the kids will find a good education and have a good place to live and be safe from …basically a good education and a good life.
ARRIVAL TO US, WHAT WAS NEIGHBORHOOD LIKE
6:37 the first time we came in, like September ’81, we stayed at my aunt’s. With my uncle, the Thai woman. There’s like 20 of us living in a two bedroom house. So we all sleep in the living room, some sleep on the sofa, the kitchen floor. We stayed there a couple months until we find our own studio. We first got a studio, all seven of us. We all sleep in a studio apartment because it was cheap. Back in the ‘80s I think it was $100/month. So we all sleep in a studio.
AND HOW OLD WERE ALL OF YOU
7:25 My sister was about 9, and I was 7, my brother was 6, my sister was 5, and Andrew about 4, and Cassie about 11/2 or 2. We stayed there for about 2 years and then we move to another housing. …
8:20 WHAT WAS NEIGHBORHOOD LIK
8:27 The neighborhood was…I don’t remember much, but a lot of Asian. And some of them were nice. We also had Blacks. Half Black, half Asian. All the apartments were 6 story apartment are all studio or 1 bedroom apartments. And they were ok neighborhood. But it’s just all low income. Everyone that live in the apartments are low income or just come from the US. And there’s robberies and stealing and just a relly bad neighborhood. 9:07
ANDREW DESCRIBED GROWING UP IN POVERTY
9:25 We would wear like mismatched clothes and the pants were second hand clothing. We got it from church. Some kind of church where they help us out, housing poor people and mostly the church people we’d get clothes from. Everything else was second hand. And sheets and everything, too. Because we didn’t have any money until we had apply for AFDC and we got AFDC when we start getting money for food and clothes. 10:01 Everything else, the church helped us.
HOW DID PARENTS START WORKING. DID THEY GET TRAINING
10:15 First, my mom, she’s busy with 5 kids, so they’re all really close [in age] so with 5 kids, that’s…I have 2 kids and I can’t even handle 2 kids. My dad would go to school at night and try to learn basic English, ESL class. My mom says she can’t. It’s just too hard with 5 kids. She stayed home, watch kids, my dad go to learn basic English. 10:43 And he just started getting involved with the church. And he would help do gardening and clean the church up. And they liked the way he worked. That’s when he started to get connection with American people. Start cleaning house and cutting grass and mowing lawn and cutting flowers and they teach him. That’s how he started was cleaning the church. 11:09 just volunteer, helping.
11:23 It was a Christian church. They help all the people who just come from the US. They have English classes. They have ESL class for basic English for elders. And that’s how he started.
WHAT ABOUT IN SCHOOL. PICKED ON
12:05 I don’t remember much, but I remember I was frustrated because I don’t know how to speak English. I don’t know the A-B-Cs the first time I came here. But my sister learned a little bit back at the refugee camp in Thailand. She know more than I do. But I was frustrated. And my dad would try to help me, but mostly he helped me with math because Englsh, I’m not like the school person at all. It was hard. But 12:34 I was struggling. Even now, when I was going to college and high school, I was struggling, too.
12:44 Socially, no, I’m fine. I’m pretty friendly with everybody. I had a lot of friends.
SO NO DESCRIMINATION, RACISM
12:52 Back then, no. I don’t remember that well. Cuz I was around with a lot of Asians.
WHO DID HE USED TO HANG AROUND AND WHEN DID THAT CHANGE
13:23 First we lived in Hayward. He was fine. He was smart. He was good in math, better than me. I struggling behind him. And then we moved to Hayward in 8th grade and he ws doing good, too. And then starting freshman 13:37 I guess maybe he start hanging around bad person and then he’s stealing cars on the weekend, or night time, coming home, hanging out in the mall and stealing and friends from school and friends in Oakland. I don’t know how he got a hold of friends in Oakland.
DID YOU SEE THE SOCIAL SHIFT?
14:18 he would brag about it a little bit, like look at all this money! He works with my dad, too. My dad would pay him. So I was like, where are you getting all this money from? He always showed off to his friends.14:32 And his friends are all jealous.
I mean, I was busy with me, too because I always hung around with all the smart kids and I always busy with my sports. Volleyball and badminton afterschool. But I don’t see him that much, so I don’t’ really pay attention to him. I know he’s startring to get really bad because he always get in trouble. 14:56 go to juvenile hall for a month and then come back. JH the other year and then come back.
15:06 HOW WOULD HE BRAG
15:10 He would show, “Look at, I have a lot of money,” and then show his wallet and put the hundred dollars on top and the dollars on the bottom! Haha. That’s how he’s bragging by showing money. But he always think that he work for my dad to get money, but I think he probably was stealing or selling. 15:28 stereos or something like that.
But he still go to school and get good grades.
SO WHEN HE GOT BUSTED, DID YOU EVER LEARN ABOUT POSSIBLE REPURCUSIONS?
16:00 Back then we didn’t know anything because my dad warn him, what have you been doing? You better stop! And then you might go to jaiil for a long, long time. My dad did warn him about that. And I guess he didn’t really listen.
16:28 AND WHEN HE GOT BUSTED, WAS THERE IMPACT IN THE COMMUNITY
16:44 My dad was always ashamed. And he’s never bragged about what we’ve done because he’s always been in trouble since he’s been in high school, so he never really brag about his kid that much. He just complain about them. That’s it. He just complaining like I wish you would stop doing this and finish school and go to college and have a good…
17:11 WHEN DEPORTATION AHPPENED, DID YOU GET SUPPORT?
17:22 he did ask around about how to resolve this. They did try to ask around. But he’s been putting on hold. My older sister write letters and letters. And we write letters to his judge when he was on trial. 17:39 Why would you want him to stay here in the US because he’s our brother and we were raised here and we don’t know anything how’s C life.
I’ve been there 17:57 and I would not want to live there. There’s no jobs and …18:18 I went to C in 2002. It’s just so many poor and I don’t think I’d ever want to live there. And there’s no jobs and 18:28 the road is just terrible. It’s bumpy. If you’re in a car, to Oakland, it would take us 2 hours to get to Oakland. It’s just so many poor people there and you feel, you know, sad and you can’t help them because you don’t have that much money either. But if you give one of them money, 10 of them come or 20 of them come and want money or food. And all the kids are no shoes, just underwear 18:58 They’re skinny. They’re all hungry. It’s sad. They need help, but who’s going to help them? There’s so many of them.
EMOTIONAL RESPONSE OF FAMILY
19:27 They do have fear that he’s not going to survive there. What is he going to do? He doesn’t speak Cambodian that well and he doesn’t know how to read or write! Very few know how to speak English. And they will lose a son and my dad will have to cut down his business because he can’t do it by himself with all these clients. …
20:44 If they deport Andrew back to C, I mean he doesn’t even know how to speak…I mean read or write Camai. So that will be really hard for himi to go back there. And my dad would have to cut down half his clients because he can’t survive himself. It’s a lot of work and all the tools are heavy and he’s getting old and that would be really hard for him.
He’s helping me pay 21:11 the mortgage. The mortgage is a lot of money to pay every month. And that’s why we all living, helping each other pay the mortgage because it’s crazy expensive.
And I will lose a brother and it will be sad because he hel pus a lot. Sometime he pick up my daughter from school because I work across the Bay. Sometimes I don’t get home until 7 and he would pick my daughter up and my daughter will lose an uncle. And my my mom would lose a son, my dad would lose a son. It would be sad. 21:43 because he helps us a lot in the house right now.
RECIDIVISM, SO WHAT’S THE CHANGE NOW
22:02 The last five year that he came I guess he probably did learn from the last…5 years, that’s a long time. And he almost got deported, but my sister bailed him out with her house! She bailed him out by put liens against her court for $300,000 house. He finally got released, that’s how he got bailed out. 22:32 And he’s are you sure you’re gonna not be getting in to trouble because if you get into trouble again, I’m going to lose my house! So that kinda wake him up too, because someone love him that much to do that for him to put a lien against our house to bail him out so he can stay here in the US and live with us. So that’s not many people would do that. And I think that really wake him up.
Plus, he’s more into church now. 23:01 And he go to church Sunday and that kinda help him to wake him up and do good things, not get into trouble.
AND HWY DID HE COMMIT CRIMES?
23:20 Probably for the money. Fit in and money. He should work with my dad. They make pretty good money. But I guess friends, easy money.
EDUCATION ABOUT CITIZENSHIP
24:13 How I applied for citizenship was through my friends. So I just follow them and copy them. I think I mention that to my brother and my sister, but they just lagged. It takes 2-3 years to get accepted. You take a test to get citizenshp. You can’t just get citizenship that easy. And 24:38 I guess because the friends he hang around with, they don’t convince him to get citizenship, but my friends does. But I remind him you better go to SF to aply. Plus he had criminal before he’s 18 so he can’t. You can’t become a citizenship if you hav a record. Misdemeanor or anything back before you’re 18.
DAD’S IMPRESSION OF AMERICA DREAMS NOW
25: 25 It doe broke his heart because he traveled and struggled so hard to escape from C for us to come here. And now he has to go back?! We want to get away from there. And now he has to send my son back and that will be sad and it’s going to be sad for us. And disappointed. And I don’ tknow. He’s still on hold right now and I just hope they don’t sent him back.
Because that means we have to support him, too.25:58 How he’s going to live. There’s no jobs there. You’re making $.05/hour. And if you make $10/month, that’s an ok life. Like a teacher making $30/month. It’s going to be really sad.
26:39 If they going to deport my brother back to C, it’s going to be really sad because my dad, we traveled, walkling through muds and through dead bodies and to try to get away from that and that’s going to be really difficult and hard for my dad, especially my dad because 26:58 he does everything for us to try to get away from that hard life. And now this US and life is…he loves America and US. I would never live any where else. I travel a lot, but America is the best way to live.
And it’s going to be hard for him. And I don’t know how he’s going to support because that means we have to support because he needs money because it’s really hard to look for a job over there. 27:29 I mean, I was there and I know how it’s like and just making $10/month, you can’t live. You have to be a policeman or school teacher.
And it’s going to be hard for us, too, we have to struggle to support him, too. And that’s going to be really hard for all of us.