One Winthrop is a community driven initiative which is committed to the social values of inclusion, acceptance, compassion, unity and respect. Through interviewing members of our community, and sharing their stories, we hope to celebrate the wonderful diverse community we are. This is the first interview in a series that will be submitted on-going to the Transcript.
Knok was born in Thailand and has lived in Winthrop since 2004, her full name KanokPhan (pronounced Ga-Knok Pan). Kanok means gold, and Phan means skin: she was named “the girl with the golden skin.” In Thai culture, names can be very long, it’s rare that anyone calls anyone by their given names. Instead, parents either shorten names or give their children another quick, short name like “orange or mango.”
Knok’s siblings and parents live in Thailand. Knok was raised Catholic, which is the minority religion in Thailand, as approximately 94 percent of the country is Buddhist. She went to Catholic school for its excellent education and to learn Catholicism as it is not part of the dominant culture. At age 13, she joined the convent, and left at age 19 to attend college as she felt being a nun was not her intended path.
Knok graduated from the University with a business degree in accounting. She worked in Bangkok at the electric company, consulting on finances. She has worked as a teacher, and in international business at a rug company. She realized there that she needed to improve her English and began talking with other like-minded persons who wanted to learn languages on-line. Here she met her future husband, who has lived in Winthrop for many years, John Stasio.
“The first two years were the hardest here”Knok says. She was not confident in her English and afraid to talk on the phone. She was not able to work as she always had because she had to wait for her work permit papers. “I felt useless, I wanted to work!” Knok found a head hunter and started temp work. The first few jobs were beneath her skill set and she was bored. After success here, she asked the head hunter for something more challenging and Knok successfully interviewed at John Hancock, where she has been now since 2006.
“Because I was working on my English, people did not always realize that I knew so much. I worked hard to communicate well and now people come to me with questions. I am proud of that,” Knok said.
In 2009, Knok attended her swearing in ceremony, and is proud to be an American citizen.
“I feel I am an American now, I love this country. I feel assimilated. I love the people of Winthrop, they have been so welcoming,” Knok said.
Knok is an active community member in Winthrop, caring deeply about her neighborhood. She enjoys her garden, cooking, and quiet nights. As our time came to an end with her American flags swaying in the breeze, Knok said, “I want to contribute, everyone should, it’s how we get better together.” I agree Knok, we are definitely better together!
Stephanie Recchia, One Winthrop *This is an abridged version: for more on Knok’s story, please visit our website at onewinthrop.org