I interviewed Mandy Say, a twenty year old Grossmont undergraduate studying social work. She grew up in a Thailand refugee camp, moved to San Diego in 2015 and currently serves as the Youth Program Coordinator at the Karen Organization of San Diego. In this interview, she describes her life and relationships in Thailand as well as learning English and finding community in California. She focuses more specifically on her identity as a Karen woman and the culture, people and experiences that brought her to social work and KOSD leadership. She hopes to increase people’s understanding of Karen and serve refugees from all countries. This interview covers topics such as Karen culture, refugee camps and immigration as well as navigating high school, forming connections and giving back.

My name is Olivia Koutsky, and I am a second year Literature/Writing major at UCSD interested in oral histories. I met Mandy Say through the Karen Organization of San Diego’s partnership with my Race and Oral History class at UCSD, and we held this interview over Zoom.

Author Note: This oral history was conducted by Olivia Koutsky on May 11, 2022.