Interview - Ty Lam

Ty Lam was born in Kampot, Cambodia in 1974. He was born during a time of unrest and grew up during the time of the Khmer Rouge. He lost 2 brothers, a father, and a sister. However, the rest of his family was able to leave Cambodia in 1979, heading to refugee camps in Thailand and the Philippines before finally immigrating to the US. One brother was able to immigrate first to Denver, Colorado and the rest of the family joined him in Colorado. Lam grew up and went to elementary, middle, and high school in Colorado. He had no English background prior to immigration, but picked it up quickly. As a kid, he enjoyed sports, especially basketball and tennis. He got his first job cleaning dishes at a restaurant after school, but later worked during the summers cleaning high schools and working at an amusement park. He attended Colorado Mountain College where he got a degree in photography. He was inspired to pursue photography because of his desire to travel. After graduation, he worked in film labs developing photos for a photographer in Aspen. He later worked at a glamour shop in a mall and after that at a camera store, which he subsequently took over. His other siblings have moved all over the US from Colorado. Lam previously was helping his brother with a liquor store in New Jersey and a year ago moved to Houston to help his sister with a donut shop. He associates with Colorado and had to adjust to living in Houston. He is currently working at B&B Donuts.

View interview transcript PDFFull interview materials on Rice Digital Scholarship