Student Portrait

My name is Esther. I am Chin, and was born and raised in Burma. My father was a veterinarian surgeon and later became a church pastor before passing away in 2013. My mother is a housewife. I have two brothers, one older and one younger, both of whom are married with children.

When I finished high school in 1996, I took an English conversation course and quickly discovered that I enjoyed learning English. I set a goal to study the language at a university and become an English teacher.

Unfortunately, I missed opportunities to study English on multiple occasions. After graduating from high school, I was admitted to a bachelor’s program at the Yangon University of Foreign Languages (YUFL). Sadly, the universities closed due to political unrest and I was unable to enroll.

After working as a computer sales clerk and waiting four years for YUFL to reopen, I decided to join the seminary in my hometown. My family felt it was a waste of time for me to wait for school any longer.

Shortly after joining the seminary, YUFL reopened. I wanted to quit my theological studies and return to Yangon, but my family refused to support me given the uncertainty of the political situation and the possibility of the schools closing again. I enrolled in a distance learning course at Kalay College but was forced to study history because no English major was offered.

After graduating from the seminary, I returned to Yangon to work for a children and youth education organization. I asked for my family’s support in transferring and changing my major to English, but they saw little difference in programs so refused to support me. Despite so many challenges, my passion for studying English and dream to become an English teacher never faded.

 About Esther

  • Ethnicity: Chin
  • Country: Myanmar

 School & Program

  • Payap University
  • Master’s, TESOL
  • Graduated

Goals & Dreams

  • Become fully certified English teacher
  • Open an English-language training center in Burma
  • Travel to interesting places!

 Loan Details

  • Loan Amount: $7,575
  • Amount Left To Fund: $0
  • Contract Duration: 13 years
  • Status: Repaid in Full


What Others Are Saying About Esther

Things brightened for me in 2006 when I began teaching English at our mission center. I loved the work and found I had a talent for teaching, yet I lacked self-confidence, deep knowledge of the language, and any teaching methodology. Moreover, because I had not majored in English or earned any certification, I could not get an official license to teach. After teaching for five years, I began looking for opportunities to study English and teaching methodology in neighboring countries.

In 2011, I gained admission to a master’s program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand. But the program was expensive, and I had few resources. Sympathizing with my dilemma, my aunty offered to lend me money so I could pursue my studies, arranging for me to pay her back little by little after finishing my studies.

I enrolled at Payap and had never been happier, at last fulfilling an ambition I’d had for 18 years. My aunty, however, got married recently and is pursuing a master’s degree herself. She can no longer support me. I work here and there to support myself and earned a partial scholarship last year, but I am no longer eligible. I am in desperate need of support for the coming academic year so I can finish my research and earn my degree.

Studying in Thailand has been an eye-opening experience for me. I feel like I have become a different person. I have made friends from different countries and have accepted differences in culture and ideology. I have also expanded my network and obtained international experience. All of these experiences help me have more confidence and dare to dream big.

As a teacher, I hope to be a witness and motivator to students who are in the same situation as I was in Myanmar. I love English, enjoy teaching, and am excited about the future.

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



At the Mic

“I believe motivation, passion, determination, persistence and patience were key factors in allowing me to overcome the challenges I faced.”



On a motorbike excursion in Thailand

“My background is rather typical of a woman in a male-dominated society. Compared to my brothers, I never felt my education and career were important to my family. It was a struggle to convince my family to let me follow my dreams and pursue my education. This motivated me to become independent and make my own future. ”



With a fellow Zomia student at Payap

“Teaching English is my life and future. I enjoy teaching and found that I have talent for it. Nothing else can be in my future plan except teaching English.”

Vimeo Video

Meet Esther

School closures in Myanmar prevented Esther for years from obtaining a degree. Today, she is a master’s student at Payap University hoping to return to Burma to open an English-language training center.

Q&A With Esther

Survey Fun

My life experience shapes who I am today. A person who was once dependent, shy and weak has now become an adventurous, independent and strong woman. I’m so happy I’ve found myself and have an opportunity to achieve my ambition.

How would your friends describe you?
Adventurous and organized
What is your favorite memory?
A motorbike trip I took with a friend to northern Thailand
What is the one thing that isn’t taught in school but should be?
To be autonomous learners
Where would you most like to travel?
France and Italy
What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
A dinner (roast duck) with my ex-boss and his wife at Golden Duck restaurant near 8 Miles Junction, Yangon, Myanmar
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
What has been the most challenging aspect of university life?
The first month of taking Western professors’ classes
If you could do anything you wanted now, what would it be?
I would like to finish my thesis and have a good full-time job!