Student Portrait

My name is Sabai, born in 1996. I am the second child among three. I have lived with my family in Yangon ever since I was born. We moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand in 2010, when I was fourteen, after many circumstances happened in my life.

Since I was born, my family lived in the staff residences where only people who worked at government offices could live. As my parents worked at MRTV (Myanmar Radio and Television), which is the part of the Ministry of Information, we were able to live there as long as they worked with MRTV.

In 1999, my parents sent me to a nursery school because they were too busy with their work to look after me. From 2001 to 2006, I went to school in Sangchaung. Even though the academic fees were expensive, my parents wanted me to attend there because of the school’s reputation and educational standards. When their salaries couldn’t cover the family expenses enough, they also worked extra jobs.

My father wrote articles for journals and magazines and my mother sold cosmetics for membership. Throughout the years at school, their struggle forced me to do the best in my schoolwork.

In 2007, when I was in middle school, the first turning point of my life occurred. The government relocated the capital city from Yangon to Naypyidaw, which completely affected my family. As the capital city was moving, all government agencies had to move too. My parents were also ordered to move. They argued with their bosses but it was useless. In considering our education and future, instead of having to live in an underdeveloped city, in 2008 my parents quit their jobs and we moved to my aunt’s house while my parents were finding new jobs and a house.

One day, my father told us that his friend offered him a job to help the charities for Nargis victims. Even though it was benevolent work, I was unhappy because he had to stay away from us and would only come back when he had matters to do in Yangon.

 About Sabai

  • Age: 26
  • Country: Myanmar

 School & Program

  • Chiang Mai University
  • Bachelor’s, Social Science
  • Graduated

Goals & Dreams

  • Work in an NGO
  • Become a community development worker in Myanmar

 Loan Details

  • Loan Amount: $1,425
  • Amount Left To Fund: $0
  • Contract Duration: 10 years
  • Status: Repaid in Full


What Others Are Saying About Sabai

During that time, my mother always supported me by saying “No matter what happens to us, do not worry and just focus on your studies because we are the ones responsible to keep you standing.” I always kept that in mind and tried my best in my education to make them proud.

Three months later, we could rent a house, and my father brought news that his friend suggested that he go work at Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) in Chiang Mai. My parents discussed it from every perspective, of course including our education. At last, my father went to Thailand to work with DVB and sent us money, and my mother often went to visit him.

In 2009, when I was in ninth grade, my mother told me that they found a Myanmar educational foundation and preferred me to attend there because of the better education system and opportunities to improve my life. I didn’t want to go to Thailand with an unfinished education in Myanmar, but when my parents explained the educational system at BEAM, and how it is completely different from Myanmar’s, I agreed to go.

Finally, in 2010 we moved to Chiang Mai and I joined BEAM. Attending BEAM was very precious. The teaching system was different from Myanmar and I knew that the more I tried, the more chances would be given. I studied two years and joined the GED preparation class. Since I was not old enough to take the tests, I started working as a guide at Starfish school and studied for the TOEFL. In 2013 I passed the TOEFL in April and the GED in July. To get work experiences before attending university, I volunteered teaching, doing survey projects, and broadcasting a community radio program at MAP Foundation.

Ever since I studied at BEAM and Chiang Mai University, my dream career has been set and constant. As I have had life experiences and met a variety of different ethnicities with their complex lives, my interests over the past few years have grown to focus on helping people in need and having new experiences to share. With this in mind, I have decided to become a professional community development worker, a role that helps anyone in need, regardless of gender, nationality, or status. That is why I chose to major in social science. I want to learn how people can work together to develop their societies, how societies should be run, and basic concepts from many fields of study that are linked to and required in working for community development. At Chiang Mai University I have been learning many new concepts that are essential for my future career goal. I want to help people in need, especially with social and educational aids, to improve quality of life, and take part in developing their community as much as I can.

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



“I believe that continuing my education at Chiang Mai University is the best route for me to take and it will help me to gain more experiences and knowledge I will require to advance in my future career.”



“The more I volunteer, participate in activities, and communicate with people with different lives, the more I become certain of my future career goal as a community development worker.”

Q&A With Sabai

Survey Fun

How would your friends describe you?
Quiet and serious
If you could do anything you wanted now, what would it be?
Study at university without worrying about money
What is the one thing that isn’t taught in school but should be?
Logical and critical thinking skills
What skill or ability do you most wish you had (but lack today)?
Problem solving skills
Where would you most like to travel?
USA and Korea
Would you rather hike in the mountains or lie on the beach?
Hike in the mountains
What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
Every family meal
What is your favorite memory?
Middle school with my best friends