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Kymberlie Quong Charles

July 27, 2023


Hillsdale, NY


Recorded by

Liza Yeager

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This interview with Kymberlie Quong-Charles was conducted on July 27, 2023 in Hillsdale, New York, as an assignment during the Oral History Summer School intensive.Kymberlie begins the interview by describing her family’s “camp” in Maine: an A-frame house on a lake that the family visited throughout her childhood and continues to spend time at. She explains that her father built the house with attention to the natural environment, and describes the feeling of “magic” she experiences there, in close contact with nature. Kymberlie also discusses having a complicated relationship to Maine more broadly. She reflects on the assumptions that outsiders make about Maine, and focuses particularly on her experience growing up mixed-race in Augusta. Kymberlie speaks about her evolving relationship to home over time, specifically in relation to having separated parents, co-parenting her own child, considering a “polylocational” lifestyle, and her decision to return to Maine every summer. Kymberlie works as an organizer and in the interview she discusses her political development. She speaks about watching her mother create community with other Asian women in Augusta, being recruited to work at a Seeds of Peace summer camp as a teenager, and transferring to Earlham College, where she studied abroad in Palestine, including Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank, and on a kibbutz in Israel.  As a college student she also got involved with labor organizing and organizing amongst Asian-American students and women of color on campus. Kymberlie also discusses being a mother: discovering her pregnancy, her decision to keep the child, and having a natural birth at home, as well as her ongoing relationship with her child. At the end of the interview, Kymberlie describes an ongoing grieving process with a family member who is terminally ill at the time of the interview. This interview would be of interest to people interested in organizing, political development, racial politics, Maine, racial politics in Maine, mixed-race families, variable definitions of home, intergenerational political influence, youth cross-cultural dialogue, college organizing, parenting, divorce, reproductive decision-making and rights, natural birth, motherhood, definitions of family, and grief.

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Interviewer Bio:
Liza Yeager

Liza Yeager is a freelance audio artist and documentarian who grew up in Oregon. She has worked on many longform radio stories and projects with a particular focus on history and historiography, queerness, and the environment.

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This interview is hereby made available for research purposes only. For additional uses (radio and other media, music, internet), please click here to inquire about permissions.

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