Student Portrait

Among my siblings and peers, I seem to be different in many ways. I overcame difficulties that people assumed I could not. Ever since I was born, I lived in a challenging, negative environment. Very often, there were battles in my village in Karen State. The government military groups would raid the village and seize and destroy our property.

At the age of five, my whole family was forced to leave the village because all the houses were set on fire. This was the same year I began school. When I finished grade two, my parents moved again, this time to Taungoo. I attended school there until I completed grade seven.

The real adventures of my life started when I was thirteen. My brother and I went to Mae Sot, Thailand, in hopes of getting a better education. We crossed the border without any valid documentation.

Fortunately, we were given an opportunity to live and study at a boarding school for Myanmar students. From grades eight to ten, I attended a Burmese migrant school near the Thai-Myanmar border.

During my time in Mae Sot, I faced many challenges. I did not have contact with my parents for many years. There was very little freedom because I did not have proper documentation apart from my student ID card. Under circumstances where bribery was inevitable, I sometimes had to pay money to the police to avoid becoming one of their victims.

After passing grade ten, I decided to dedicate my life to improving the lives of others. I volunteered as an English teacher for two years at my former high school. While teaching, I learned much about the students and their heartbreaking stories. I did my best to inspire them to succeed in their studies because I wanted to see them grow. If I could go back in time, I would return to the days I spent with these students.

 About Shine

  • Age: 29
  • Ethnicity: Karen
  • Country: Myanmar

 School & Program

  • Payap University
  • Bachelor’s, International Business Management
  • Graduated

Goals & Dreams

  • Become a small business owner
  • Return to Myanmar and contribute to the prosperity of my community

 Loan Details

  • Loan Amount: $5,850
  • Amount Left To Fund: $0
  • Contract Duration: 12 years
  • Status: In Repayment


Shine, in his own words

In addition to teaching them, I learned important life skills such as critical thinking, self-management, and problem solving techniques. The most valuable thing I gained from my volunteer experience was a clear awareness of who I want to be in the future.

On February 25th 2013, I said goodbye to my students and began chasing my dream. I took the BEAM entrance exam and was accepted to begin studying for the GED. I studied for ten months and took the test in January 2014. I passed all subjects. I then returned to Myanmar and volunteered at a school in my village for four months, where I taught English to students between ten and fifteen years old. I also spent time with my family. My parents were proud to see me as a grown person and helping others any way I can.

I believe I was born to make a change. Should I obtain a chance to continue my education, I will be able to improve the lives of the people in my village, region, state, and country someday.

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



“I believe I was born to make a change.”

Q&A With Shine

Survey Fun

What is your favorite memory?
The moment I received my GED certificate
How would your friends describe you?
Ambitious, hardworking, and kind
What is the one thing that isn’t taught in school but should be?
Sex education
Where would you most like to travel?
The southern parts of the United States
If you could do anything you wanted now, what would it be?
Buy my parents a nice house
What was your favorite class last semester? Why was it great?
Peace and Aesthetics! There weren’t many homework assignments from this class. Additionally, the teacher had a bright spirit which inspired me to smile and laugh more than before.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
Insects that live in bamboo