Erasmus, a Dutch theologian in the 16th century said, “The main hope of a nation lies in the proper education of its youth.” I fully agree with him, and millions of people in Myanmar would as well since—except for a few fortunate ones—most of us are victims of a poor education system and we can hardly imagine what the future of our nation holds as a result.
I was born and raised in Yangon in a close-knit ethnic Karen family where life revolved around religion, education and hard work. My father, a retired veterinarian, and my mother, a retired doctor, raised me and my elder sister. Since childhood, my parents expressed their care for us by placing great emphasis on education and achievement. Realizing the importance of education, I worked hard to succeed in school. I scored high enough on my matriculation exam in high school to get into the top universities in Myanmar, but my family urged me to pursue a university degree outside of Myanmar because even the best schools were not good.
At first, the thought of leaving my parents and beloved country devastated me; however, my parents and I knew that Myanmar’s educational standards lag far behind other countries, and studying abroad was the only way to acquire a high quality education. At that time, realizing the plight of my fellow citizens being in the same situation as me, I made one of the most important resolutions in my life: to study abroad so that I could return and provide educational support to Myanmar’s younger generation.
One of the major challenges I faced while preparing to study abroad was my dread of English. At the time, my English skills were very weak. But I set my heart on learning and mastering the language. Over the months, I found myself enjoying learning English and its literature, so much so that I decided to major in English for my undergraduate studies. After studying English vigorously for 10 months, I became confident enough to take the IELTS exam to see how much I had improved. I was very pleased with the IELTS results. It was then that I no longer saw English as a major obstacle but as source of enjoyment. I enrolled in the English communications program for my bachelor’s degree at Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and studied there until I completed my degree in 2010.
- Age: 32
- Ethnicity: Karen
- Country: Myanmar
School & Program
- Assumption University
- Master’s, Educational Administration
Goals & Dreams
- Help shape educational reform in Myanmar
- Be a good multi-tasker
- Loan Amount: $7,400
- Amount Left To Fund: $6,750
- Contract Duration: 13 years
- Status: In Repayment
Juno, in her own words
In addition to school work and activities, throughout my undergraduate studies I was active in the community. My activities ranged from volunteering as an English teacher at Myanmar and Thai churches in Chiang Mai during the summer months to joining a fundraising committee to help victims of Cyclone Nargis (2008). Furthermore, from 2008 to 2010, I served as assistant secretary of Payap Myanmar Students Fellowship (PMSF), and after graduating I was given the opportunity to intern as a translator/interpreter for a two-month workshop at the Linguistics Institute of Payap University.
Although working in another country, I continued to serve the Myanmar community in a variety of ways following my graduation. In 2011, I joined the training unit at Linguistics Institute as a full-time training specialist. My responsibilities included providing Myanmar language lessons to faculty members who were working on language development projects for ethnic groups in Myanmar. Other responsibilities included providing Myanmar ethnic group representatives teacher training workshops and translating at practical workshops in literacy and translation.
The variety of experiences and knowledge that I have accumulated during my years outside Myanmar have helped immensely as I seek to discern what to do next to accomplish my vision of service in education for my fellow people in Myanmar. Volunteering as an English teacher in Chiang Mai to the children of migrant workers at a Burmese church, for example, has helped me realize how hard their parents’ lives are surviving and working in Thailand. Even though many have a university degree from Myanmar, they are barely equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to hold a place in the workforce. Moreover, working with ethnic groups from Myanmar has given me first-hand experience as to how difficult it is for minorities to receive equal access to education. Witnessing and hearing about their struggles makes me more passionate about fulfilling the educational needs of the disadvantaged and ethnic people of Myanmar.
Myanmar needs trained and experienced individuals who have the knowledge and skills to bring about real change from within the education system. I am determined to pursue my master’s degree in educational administration at Assumption University with the clear vision of becoming part of the reform process of Myanmar’s educational system.
Written by Juno with editing assistance from Zomia’s volunteer editors.
“The variety of experiences and knowledge that I have accumulated during my years outside Myanmar have helped immensely as I seek to discern what to do next to accomplish my vision of service in education for my fellow people in Myanmar.”