Student Portrait

My name is Ei San. I grew up in a rural area in the southeastern part of Myanmar. We do not have electricity in our town. My parents are farmers whose lives are simply to pass the days on the farm. I studied in the same school for ten years until I was fifteen.

Since my parents are farmers with no extra income, I did not want to burden them by going to a college in my country; I knew the programs there were costly and would do little to improve my future. I decided to leave home and moved to Thailand, where there are free education services on the border. I studied at a migrant learning center for two years. These are the schools established for immigrants from Myanmar without any legal status.

This experience opened my eyes to a whole new world, one I never knew existed. All my life, I’d been stuck in a small town without any prospects for life. I had never read a newspaper or understood the situation in my country, the conflicts, and the struggles.

However, it all changed when I got to Thailand. I began to understand the political situation in Myanmar by watching exiled reporters talking about the corruption and oppression of the military government. I became aware of the existence of Burmese refugees who fled the country and now live in Thailand, where they face social injustice and discrimination.

It not only opened my eyes to the ugly truth of my country; it also opened a door to a new journey and modified goals. When I was young, I was an introvert in the classroom. After leaving, I studied hard and participated in school activities as a student leader. I made so many friends and became one of the students that all the teachers like.

 About Ei San

  • Age: 29
  • Ethnicity: Karen
  • Country: Myanmar

 School & Program

  • University of Hong Kong
  • Bachelor’s, Journalism
  • Graduated

Goals & Dreams

  • Become a famous journalist
  • Manage my own business

 Loan Details

  • Loan Amount: $3,025
  • Amount Left To Fund: $0
  • Contract Duration: 11 years
  • Status: Repaid in Full


What Others Are Saying About Ei San

After two years, I went to a one-year post-high school program where they train students who wish to study abroad. I tried my best because I knew it would be my only opportunity to study abroad. I eventually finished the program and earned my GED certificate. I applied to study in one of the universities in Bangkok but got rejected.

That rejection was like a punch to my stomach because I’d become so confident that I would get accepted. I went into a serious depression, thinking that I’d failed. I was losing hope. After a few months, I finally got ahold of myself again and began looking for a job. I volunteered at a Thai government high school as a teacher for several months.

I then worked at a Spanish organization that helps fund the migrant schools. During that time, I encountered many foreign journalists from the United States, Spain, and other countries visiting the border to conduct their research. Some of them won awards for their work, and the money they received went back to the migrant schools. I found that very impressive, and I wanted to do the same. It inspired me to apply to the journalism program at University of Hong Kong (HKU).

I applied for admission to HKU because I wanted to challenge myself. Although I had failed once, I regained my confidence by working and interacting with professionals. The experience taught me a lot of things and helped me become an adult.

I did well in the application and interview process. I delighted the interviewers with my work experience and student leadership activities. It all helped me gain admission to HKU and study a subject I am passionate about.

Looking back on my life now, it feels like a long journey. Ten years ago, I would have thought studying abroad on my own would be impossible. But now, here I am, making friends with students from all over the world, talking about the injustices in our system, and working to be a small part of the change.

I still find it amazing how my personality and characteristics changed over time. I am satisfied with all the changes I’ve made to myself. This process of growing into a responsible adult shaped the way I think and act today. I have made it this far and know I will go further to find the better me.

Written by Ei San with editing assistance from Zomia’s volunteer editors.

Q&A With Ei San

Survey Fun

What is your favorite memory?
When I witnessed snow for the first time
How would your friends describe you?
What is the one thing that isn’t taught in school but should be?
How to make friends
What is/was your favorite subject in school?
What skill or ability do you most wish you had (but lack today)?
Graphic design
Where would you most like to travel?
New York
What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
All the meals at home
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
Successfully managing my own business