Student Portrait

My name is Paing. Thanks to family connections, I was fortunate to attend an English Language school called the Diplomatic School of Yangon (DSY) from the time I was seven years old.

These school years, which lasted until 2013, naturally built me up to a path to want to study abroad. I also gained a love for learning and discovering things beyond my bubble.

After DSY, I attended the Pre-Collegiate Program of Yangon (PCP), a liberal arts education-based program where students from different socioeconomic backgrounds engage in community service, field trips, and internships fostering the students’ community engagement and improving their critical and empathetic thinking abilities.

Through classes and experiential education, my voracious appetite for learning grew into a love for sharing what I have learned with others. Two particular experiences contributed to this.

The first was volunteering as an ESL teacher at Kaw Dai in Shan State. There, I had the opportunity to work with students from rural communities invested in learning English so they could study abroad. Their passion to help develop their respective communities with the skills and knowledge they gained inspired me to learn how I could share my own skills and knowledge in a more specific and productive manner.

The second was an internship at Tagu Films, a documentary filmmaking studio. My mentors at Tagu opened my mind to the power of storytelling, which allows people to learn and heal, especially in a country where people are slowly learning to express themselves after living under a military regime. Not only this, it was incredible to see that these stories were a highly accessible educational resource outside the classroom.

 About Paing

  • Age: 27
  • Ethnicity: Burmese
  • Country: Myanmar

 School & Program

  • Bennington College
  • Bachelor’s, Animation & Sound Design
  • Graduated

Goals & Dreams

  • Become a social practice artist
  • Become an educator

 Loan Details

  • Loan Amount: $3,900
  • Amount Left To Fund: $1,350
  • Contract Duration: 11 years
  • Status: In Deferment
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Paing, in his own words

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In summary, these two experiences helped me set a goal to share accessible experiences that encourage learning, healing, empathy, and cultural expressions through stories and art.

After my education at PCP, I was fortunate enough to receive a generous financial aid package from Bennington College to study in a liberal arts undergraduate program. Here, after much trial-and-error, I decided to focus on animation and sound design as the mediums to pursue my goals.

During this time, sciences, humanities, and social studies have not only been making me more globally aware of different cultures and experiences of people—but also informing me and my studies interdisciplinarily.

Bennington College mandates a yearly field work term in which students complete a seven-week long internship in communities beyond the bubble of the rural landscape of the college. For instance, since I am interested in education, my very first field work term was working as an academic mentor for high school students at risk of dropping out of school for various reasons. During this internship, we worked with students to learn about other cultures and designed an exhibition about their research.

As of now, I am approaching my last semester of college, after which I hope to work with visual and auditory media while engaging with diverse communities to raise awareness—especially back home in Myanmar—through stories and art. This may take the form of my own expressions, or those of other people as I help them find and communicate their voices. In short, I want to create resources to encourage learning and healing outside the classroom, hopefully making them more accessible to all.

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

Q&A With Paing

Survey Fun

What is your favorite memory?
Cooking with my parents
How would your friends describe you?
Honest and compassionate
What is the one thing that isn’t taught in school but should be?
Creative and empathetic thinking
What is/was your favorite subject in school?
Literature and History
What skill or ability do you most wish you had (but lack today)?
Photographic memory
If you could do anything you wanted now, what would it be?
Write a children’s literature book
What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
Mom and Dad’s joint cooking
What’s your dream job?
Social practice artist and educator

You can also lend using the pink button atop every student profile.