Student Portrait

It takes effort and experience to pursue a successful life. My name is Seng Hkawn. I am from the Kachin ethnic group of Myanmar. I am the eldest sister of four, and my mother and brothers have taken care of the family store since my father passed away in 2007.

I believe in the notion of “self-help” and have always tried to do the right thing and do my best. Early in high school, I desired to become an English instructor. Therefore, I studied very hard in high school and earned awards in English, mathematics and coordinated science (physics, chemistry, and biology are combined as one course) on the matriculation exam.

However, my family placed a great deal of pressure on me to major in computer science because I did well in science subjects. It was a false choice, though, because the more I studied computer science the more I lost interest in the field. Moreover, the college did not provide enough computers or electricity for the students.

Even though we studied computer programming, we could not test or run the programs we wrote. It was all on paper. Though I graduated in computer science, my heart was still in teaching English.

After I finished college in Monywa, Sagaing division, Myanmar, I went to Yangon and took English courses there. I was lucky to have moral and financial support from my family and siblings. They believed in my potential to pursue a professional education and thought I was the most talented person in my family.

After completing those courses and gaining some confidence in English, I volunteered at a public high school in my hometown to teach English, mathematics, and coordinated science. I then worked as an English instructor at an orphanage boarding center for three years. I learned a great deal in education management and teaching methods in these schools. I learned how to deal with students and colleagues and how to overcome challenges and limitations such as my lack of teaching experience and the poor facilities of the schools. Those experiences led me to consider pursuing higher education for my teaching profession.

 About Seng Hkawn

  • Age: 40
  • Ethnicity: Kachin
  • Country: Myanmar

 School & Program

  • Payap University
  • Master’s, TESOL
  • Graduated

Goals & Dreams

  • Be an effective English teacher
  • Contribute to Myanmar’s development as a teacher

 Loan Details

  • Loan Amount: $1,800
  • Amount Left To Fund: $0
  • Contract Duration: 10 years
  • Status: Repaid in Full


What Others Are Saying About Seng Hkawn

I developed professionally and became a better teacher through my experiences at the high school and orphanage. As a result of teaching better, I received better opportunities, such as teaching at international learning centers in Yangon. However, I was not satisfied with that current condition.

I decided to enroll in the M.A. TESOL program at Payap University. My family and relatives contributed to my degree for two years. Even though I earn an income by teaching Burmese at Chiang Mai University, I still need financial help in order to finish my thesis in one semester. Though I am writing my thesis, it has taken me longer than I expected, and my family cannot support me for my last semester. Therefore, I hope that I can finish my degree with a loan from Zomia. After I graduate from Payap University, I will work as an English instructor at a Kachin education organization in Myanmar. The organization trains Kachin youth to be able to study abroad by teaching them English and other required foundation subjects.

Furthermore, I have been fortunate to use my English teaching skills in many settings. I have taught English at a local church and helped establish a school library. I also volunteered to teach about the ten ASEAN countries in Chiang Mai to middle school students at a private Thai school and to tourism majors at a vocational college. In addition to completing the TESOL coursework from Payap University, these are the things I have accomplished during my studies which have shaped who I am and helped me see a brighter future for me and my community.

I think for someone like me from northwestern Myanmar who is committed, my experience will be a huge boost to the education sector in the region because we need many educators to develop a fully democratic country, and I will be able to initiate the most effective and appropriate programs. In this way, I will be able to contribute as a resource in the education sector for the development of my country.

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

Seng Hkawn

Seng Hkawn

“The M.A. in TESOL appeals to me for many practical and professional reasons; firstly I like teaching and have a high admiration for being a teacher, and secondly I strongly believe that education is the key to individual development and national prosperity.”

Seng Hkawn

Seng Hkawn

“If I can secure a loan from Zomia, I will be able to finish my last semester and start working for my community.”

Vimeo Video

Meet Seng Hkawn

Seng Hkawn completed a degree in computer science before finding her life passion teaching English. She plans to use her TESOL degree to prepare students for college at an English language training center in northern Myanmar.

Q&A With Seng Hkawn

Survey Fun

What is your favorite memory?
Volunteering as a teacher for a summer course at my local church where I taught English to middle school and high school students
How would your friends describe you?
Friendly, helpful and smart
What is the one thing that isn’t taught in school but should be?
Emotional intelligence
What is/was your favorite subject in school?
English and Maths (in high school) and TESOL
What skill or ability do you most wish you had (but lack today)?
Singing and drawing because those skills are important in teaching as well
If you could do anything you wanted now, what would it be?
Get a good job which is useful both for me and my community
Where would you most like to travel?
Europe for historical places
What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
Kachin food
What’s your dream job?
An effective English teacher
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
Working as a successful English teacher in Myanmar