My name is Chen. I was born in Mae Hong Son, Thailand. I was only five years old when my parents took me to Burma to attend school. At the time, I lived with my grandmother and aunt. After I finished grade 9, I moved back to Thailand.
For six years, I worked tirelessly to support myself and never thought about going back to school to continue my education. I merely thought about working hard and saving as much money as I could.
I did any job I could find. I worked as a waiter, car washer, shop assistant, construction worker, and factory worker. Although I struggled endlessly to survive and my life was not improving, I refused to give up on pursuing my dream. From the time I was a child, I dreamed of becoming a teacher.
This is why I started looking for a learning center where I could work and study at the same time. In 2012, I enrolled in Basic English and Computer Training at Shan Youth Power in Chiang Mai for five months. I learned basic computer and English speaking skills.
In 2013, I joined a program at the School for Shan State Nationalities Youth (SSSNY) for six months. In this program, I learned about human rights, governmental systems, environmental issues, and leadership. In 2014, I completed the English Immersion Program at the Community Development Training Center. I learned about teacher training, community development projects, translation skills, and leadership skills.
In 2016, I had an opportunity to enroll in the General Educational Development (GED) training program at BEAM Education Foundation in order to prepare myself for higher education. At the time, I worked during the day and joined BEAM’s classes in the evening. For a year, my life was a constant cycle of working and studying.
- Ethnicity: Shan
- Country: Myanmar
School & Program
- Chiang Mai Rajabhat University
- Bachelor’s, English for International Communication
Goals & Dreams
- Become a teacher
- Buy a house for my mom
- Loan Amount: $4,900
- Amount Left To Fund: $4,400
- Contract Duration: 12 years
- Status: In Grace Period
What Others Are Saying About Chen
After that, I took the GED tests and received a high school equivalency certificate. Later, I applied to study in a university. I was accepted by Chiang Mai Rajabhat University and am currently working to earn a bachelor’s degree in English for International Communication. I am now a third-year student and I will be graduating in 2021.
While studying at Chiang Mai Rajabhat University, I have been working as a volunteer teacher at Shan Youth Power (SYP), BEAM, and Community Learning Center. I teach basic English and Shan language at SYP on Thursday and Friday evenings. On Monday and Wednesday, I teach Thai conversation classes at BEAM for students from Burma and the refugee camps along the border. On weekends, I teach Burmese at Community Learning Center.
I love what I am doing now. I am happy with my studies and volunteer work. I have learned so many things from my colleagues and students. I believe that these experiences will be of great benefit to my future career.
I would like to become a person that everyone—including my family, friends and society—can rely on. Getting this degree will enable me to accomplish my goals.
Written by Chen with editing assistance from Zomia’s volunteer editors.
Chen, Future Teacher
“I love what I am doing now. I am happy with my studies and volunteer work. I have learned so many things from my colleagues and students. I believe that these experiences will be of great benefit to my future career.”