I am from Kyaukme, Northern Shan State, Myanmar. As a child, I lived with my family in a little flat that was far away from my elementary school. It was so difficult to travel between the school and home. My mom worked at a tea factory where the tea was delivered inside and outside of the town, and my father was a truck driver. We had an old bicycle, but my father had to use it for his work. As a result, I had to move to my grandmother’s house, which is near the school.
Life was difficult. My parents could not even afford to fix minor health problems. I had cavities, but my parents could not do anything to help. I lived with nine cousins, including my younger brother, in my grandmother’s house. Luckily, my uncle took care of me while I stayed at my grandmom’s house. Mom and Dad sometimes supported me with money.
When I was seven years old, my father became addicted to heroin, and he was careless about our family. Finally, he left the family, forcing my mom to work harder than before. Our family already struggled economically. A life without my father made our family more unstable. I almost stopped my education, but my uncle supported me financially and I was able to finish high school. At that time, my mom went to many places to find jobs to support our education. To earn more money to support us, she moved to Thailand when I was in Grade 9. We lived with my grandma until I finished high school. After that, I never saw my mom, but I received letters from her twice a year. I grew up under my uncle’s care. After I finished high school, my mom took my younger brother and me to Thailand in Chiang Mai.
I never imagined that I would get a chance to continue my studies in Thailand because going to college in Thailand is expensive. My mom could not even support me during high school.
- Age: 28
- Ethnicity: Burmese, Shan
- Country: Myanmar
School & Program
- SEE TEFL Chiang Mai
- Voc/Tech, Teaching English as a Foreign Language
Goals & Dreams
- Open a private general education school for kids
- Run a hotel and restaurant where my mom is a cook
- Loan Amount: $5,150
- Amount Left To Fund: $4,900
- Contract Duration: 12 years
- Status: In Repayment
Finn, in his own words
When I first arrived in Thailand, I worked at a restaurant on the Doi Suthep Mountain as a chef for one year. At that time, I learned that I could apply to some programs to continue my studies. I was given a chance to study at BEAM (Bridging Educational Access to Migrants), an education foundation that helps migrants from Myanmar access further education. I studied in BEAM’s GED program (General Education Diploma), which is an American high school equivalency certificate, for two years. While I was studying at BEAM, I also worked at many places around Chiang Mai. I supervised students from Mae Sot who came to study in the GED program. In addition, I taught English for migrant children at a mosque for two months. I also participated in activities at BEAM such as cleaning and fundraising. I worked at The Red Chili cooking school after I finished taking the GED exam. Later, wanting to gain more experience, I volunteered teaching English at Thai Freedom House and worked at the Free Bird Cafe as a chef for six months.
Ultimately, I realized that the more I learn, the better I can serve my people and community, so I applied to Chiang Mai University to gain a better education. My former teacher from the United States supported me with 3,000 baht per month (less than US $100) to cover my living expenses, and BEAM helped me by providing a scholarship and enabling me to borrow funds from their partner organization called Zomia for my tuition fees. For a semester, I worked part-time to pay for my living expenses. Today, I am extremely confident that I can fulfill my future plan and provide as much assistance as possible for my community in Myanmar.
Written by Finn with editing assistance from Zomia’s volunteer editors.
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