I grew up in an underprivileged community in Myanmar‘s Kayin State, an area populated by marginalized ethnic minorities. As a child, I attended a small learning center that was built and organized by monks. The learning center teaches students from kindergarten to grade 4. Students who finish grade 4 move on to a government school, which is quite expensive.
Some students like me couldn’t afford tuition fees so began working at a young age. Working at a young age was not what my parents wanted for me, but there were few opportunities for people in Kayin State. Therefore, my family decided to make the journey to Nu Poe refugee camp in Thailand.
Attending migrant school at the camp helped me cope with the precarious situation my family was in. School became the way I endured the many challenging conditions of life as a migrant child.
Eventually, the migrant schools in Nu Poe outgrew their capacity because of a limited number of teachers, but I knew I could not give up on my education. Therefore, I tried to find ways to improve my education. My family supported my pursuit of my goals, and in 2015 they allowed me to move yet again to Mae Sot all by myself to pursue a higher education degree; then, as now, education has always been my north star.
While studying in Mae Sot as a 15-year-old, I had to live in a dormitory with no family members around. Surviving on my own, I learned how to be strong, how to get along peacefully with different people, and the importance of being patient.
Furthermore, I developed a broader view of the world and tried my best to understand it, which has somehow made me more mature. Without many opportunities to pursue higher education internationally, enrolling in a GED program became a popular alternative among migrant students. I moved yet again, this time to Chiang Mai, to study in a GED program and prepare to apply to an international university.
- Age: 26
- Ethnicity: Karen
- Country: Myanmar
School & Program
- Assumption University
- Bachelor’s, Business Administration
- 2nd Year in Program
Goals & Dreams
- Run a tour company
- Visit every country in Europe
- Loan Amount: $4,875
- Amount Left To Fund: $3,400
- Contract Duration: 12 years
- Status: In School
What Others Are Saying About Alexa
While in high school, I joined the Rays of Youth program, implemented by the Help Without Frontiers Foundation in Mae Sot. Rays of Youth aims to empower Burmese migrant children and youth to become more engaged in their communities.
At Rays of Youth, I served as the president of a youth network group. I organized different awareness-raising events, community roadshows, and campaigns targeting migrant children and youth. I participated in all the conferences provided by the program and gained many things such as leadership skills, teamwork, critical thinking, sex education, safe migration, healthcare, life skills, and human rights. Additionally, I participated in the youth conference while studying at BEAM, organized by BEAM and the JUMP! Foundation.
Most recently, I worked as a translator at Mae Sot General Hospital. I helped Burmese migrant workers with Covid vaccinations and vaccine certificates. At the Covid quarantine center, I assisted the nurses and doctors by collecting patient information, helping manage where patients stayed, and delivering medicines wherever they were needed.
This experience improved my education and life skills, which helped me survive in a foreign country on my own. It also helped me discover my passion and what I would like to become in the future.
I will not spend my whole life in Thailand, as I am just a guest here. I plan to return to the place that actually belongs to me and my people, the place I call home: Myanmar. After gaining the education, degree, and skills I want, I will be able to contribute to Myanmar’s development.
Written by Alexa with editing assistance from Zomia’s volunteer editors.
“Education has always been my north star.”