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Self Evident: Asian America's Stories

Nov 15, 2022

Lisa Phu grew up telling a story about how her family left Cambodia as refugees, to start a new life in the United States — but for the longest time, she’d never heard this story firsthand, from her mom, Lan.

After Lisa gave birth to her first daughter, her mom flew across the country to meet her first grandchild. And during that visit, she finally shared the real story with Lisa. About growing up in Cambodia, fleeing genocide by the Khmer Rouge, surviving as a gold dealer in Vietnam, building a home in America while navigating the fallout and traumas of war… and carrying the future of four children with her throughout the journey.

Before Me follows one woman’s life, from Cambodia to America, over the course of decades. But it also follows a long overdue conversation between mother and daughter, about their family’s history — through death and birth, separation and reunion, endings and beginnings.

Because while we may never fully understand the reality of those who came before us, every story is a chance to get closer. And in listening, find meaning in what’s been preserved.

During November and December 2022, Self Evident is presenting Before Me through our podcast feed.

It's a brand new audio series we're launching in partnership with Lisa, and we hope you'll join us in listening and sharing the story as it unfolds, week by week.

Learn how to conduct an oral history interview with your loved ones at

To meet other listeners of Self Evident and Before Me, and get started on your own oral history journey, join our Discord community at