Student Portrait

My name is Shan Shan. I come from Tachileik, Shan State, Myanmar, and I belong to the Lahu tribe. I am twenty-one years old. My father is a pastor in a Lahu Baptist church in Tachileik, and my mother is a housewife. I have two sisters, both of whom are college graduates. I am the middle child.

I studied in Keng Tong township until I finished high school in 2008. After the school announced my exam result, I went to a Shan boarding school in the mountains and volunteered as a student guide for about one year. After that I learned Chinese at a Chinese pagoda in Keng Tong, and studied accounting at a computer center nearby. In the last month of 2009, I started at Keng Tong University, majoring in physics and qualifying for Hons., which allows students to complete a bachelor’s and master’s degree in four years. In my final year of school,

my family relocated to Tachileik where the church appointed my father to serve as a missionary. When my parents moved, I stayed in a hostel near the university until I graduated in December 2013.

When I was fourteen years old, our family struggled to make a living. At that time, the price of basic goods were skyrocketing. Our family had five members, and all three of the sisters were studying in high school. We had to pay many different kinds of charges at school which our family could not afford. Fortunately, my grandparents gave us a small tea plantation. The whole family went there and collected tea leaves from our plantation, and then we prepared the tea to sell as a product. This income covered part of our expenses and we were then able to pay for the charges at school.

After I graduated, I came to Thailand to learn about politics, the environment, and human rights from Shan State Nationalities Youth (SSSNY) for eight months.

 About Shan Shan

  • Age: 31
  • Ethnicity: Lahu
  • Country: Myanmar

 School & Program

  • Assumption University
  • Master’s, Curriculum & Instruction
  • Graduated

Goals & Dreams

  • Become a good English teacher
  • Teach those who cannot access English

 Loan Details

  • Loan Amount: $6,825
  • Amount Left To Fund: $0
  • Contract Duration: 13 years
  • Status: Repaid in Full


Shan Shan, in her own words

Then I returned to my hometown and gave trainings to young people and our communities about what I learned.

While I was taking an intensive English course requirement to enter a university in Chiang Mai, I volunteered for MAP Foundation‘s Phamit Project. The project helps improve migrant workers’ health, especially in AIDS prevention. I learned many things, like how to cooperate with people and undertake organizational tasks. It also helped me understand more about migrant people and expanded my networking experiences.

I was in Chiang Mai for almost a year and a half before I finally came to Bangkok. I met a Myanmar lady who was doing her master’s degree at a university in Chiang Mai. She explained to me that I was too inexperienced to study TESOL. So, upon hearing her advice, I decided to come to Assumption University since their program is exclusively designed for people who aspire to become effective teachers.

I enjoy helping people in our communities and others. Since arriving in Bangkok I have learned so much from having to research and present. My teaching and English writing and speaking skills have improved thanks to my classmates, most of whom are native English speakers.

In my mind, I have many responsibilities for people and communities, and I will try to lead and guide educators because if we do not access education then we cannot understand what happens in the world. I want to go back to my hometown and teach English to those who do not have access to English.

Life places huge demands on us. However, I believe that education is a powerful tool that can change a person’s life and the world. Depending on the energy and persistence, a person can conquer all things.

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

Q&A With Shan Shan

Survey Fun

How would your friends describe you?
Flexible, kind, and funny
What is the one thing that isn’t taught in school but should be?
Human rights
What skill or ability do you most wish you had (but lack today)?
To be good in writing
If you could go back in time, what year or period would you travel to? Why?
I want to go back to 2008, then travel to Yangon because I want to master English. We didn’t have a good English teacher in our town or any facilities for students at that time
If you could do anything you wanted now, what would it be?
I’d like to stop wars in every country
Where would you most like to travel?
Niagara Falls
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
In my hometown—Tachileik
What is the most important quality in a friend?
Taking care of each other and understanding