When I was three years old my family moved to Lecha Township, Southern Shan State, Burma due to military conflict. I was able to study there until I graduated from high school. Afterward, in 2002, I taught in Lecha’s high school for approximately six months until I got the chance to continue my bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Panglong University. I graduated from Panglong with the qualification to study a master’s degree, but my family couldn’t afford the tuition as they are farmers.
In 2007, I decided to come to Thailand with the hope of studying at School for Shan State Nationality Youth (SSSNY). I was not selected though because I lacked English language skills. Even though I had been studying English for more than 15 years in Burma, my English was not good enough because we had learned by memorizing and did not study with a native English teacher.
But I did not stop dreaming. I moved to Bangkok with my sister who was working at ALTSEAN-Burma, where I got the chance to study and practice speaking English. After my third time applying, in 2009 my dream came true—SSSNY accepted me to study at their school.
In 2010, I applied for an academic internship at SSSNY to teach human rights and assist teachers on managing classroom resources. I also volunteered with Shan Youth Power (SYP) teaching children in the migrant worker camps. Because the children were born in the camps in Thailand they could not speak Shan, their mother tongue. Through my volunteering I could see the development in their speaking and writing abilities and I felt proud that I was able to help them.
In 2011 and 2012 I worked at Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF). At HRDF I helped translate and explain migrant rights in a simple way for the workers to understand. In working there, however, I realized that I still was confused and did not have sufficient knowledge to do better. And so I decided to continue my studies to improve my abilities.
- Age: 38
- Ethnicity: Shan
- Country: Myanmar
School & Program
- Rangsit University
- Master’s, Diplomacy & International Studies
Goals & Dreams
- Work for a United Nations organization
- Work for my community in Burma
- Loan Amount: $1,600
- Amount Left To Fund: $0
- Contract Duration: 10 years
- Status: Repaid in Full
What Others Are Saying About Mokawn
I studied in the Diplomacy and International Studies program at Rangsit University. This major gave me the chance to study many subjects such as international human rights, politics, security, economics, and diplomatic negotiations. I learned that communication is an important tool as a working team and I recognized those issues when we had group work. We had to discuss, argue and comment on each other more so that we could solve problems together. In my class there were students from ASEAN and other countries around the world such as the USA, Bhutan, China, Fiji and others, so I had to adapt my attitude and thinking to be able to share my ideas and work with them.
For my final thesis project I looked at the economy in Myanmar with a focus on foreign investment and labor. This study is very important for my future because I believe the skills and knowledge I will have gained from working on it will affect my career. After I graduate I plan to find a job with an international non-governmental organization and a community-based organization that helps with the problems facing the Shan community in Burma.
I believe that education has the power to bring changes to my country. What inspires me is a quote from Nelson Mandela–“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” In fact Burma has been isolated since 1962 and it has impacted the lives of people that we left far behind when globalization grew in the world today.
Since 2011, when President Thein Sein took office, Myanmar has converted to a “democratic” country. But to reach the goal of becoming a genuine democracy, people need to participate, and to do that they need an understanding of the political situation so that they can raise their voices and criticize the government to gain their rights and freedom.
I believe studying on the international level can expand my ideas to work with many people, not only for my career but also for my community. It is very important for developing countries to develop human resources and to promote capacity building.
Written by Mokawn with editing assistance from Zomia’s volunteer editors.