My name is Su Myat. I was born and raised in Yangon, Myanmar, one of the world’s least-developed countries. Many ordinary Myanmar citizens are routinely deprived of their rights and exploited for the economic and political interests of the military government and select elites.
I lived in Ayeyarwady Division until I was 3 years old, when my family moved to Yangon for my education and other reasons. In 2007, when I was 10, I encountered the biggest scare of my life when the Saffron Revolution—a protest against the military regime led by Buddhist monks—happened in Myanmar.
I get goosebumps even today because I still remember the sound of gunshots near my house. My father, who went out to protest and take photos of killings committed by the junta, did not come back that day. My mother asked for help from our neighbors to search for my dad, yet no one was willing to help.
My mom went alone to the hospital in the hope of finding my father, but doctors there told her that he was probably dead. No one can imagine the fear of 10-year-old child helplessly left home alone, unsure that her parents would ever return.
With blessings from all of the gods, my dad returned a few days later because the police could not find his camera and let him go. In fact, he had hidden his camera. After a few days, he went to my uncle’s internet café to send photos to international broadcasters because the military was trying to cover up its brutal crackdown.
Although the government had shut down the internet, he managed to send the photos with the help of a friend, an expert at both hacking and the English language. This was the first time I understood the important role of languages. From that point on, learning at least five languages became one of my goals in life.
Although I wanted to be a person who can speak the truth just like my parents, I spent my high school years as an outcast struggling to overcome social anxiety.
About Su Myat
- Age: 22
- Country: Myanmar
School & Program
- Chiang Mai University
- Bachelor’s, Social Science
- 2nd Year in Program
Goals & Dreams
- Become a social scientist
- Reduce poverty
- Spread liberal arts education in Myanmar
- Speak five languages
- Loan Amount: $3,250
- Amount Left To Fund: $2,525
- Contract Duration: 11 years
- Status: In School
What Others Are Saying About Su Myat
In eighth grade, I failed in monthly tests and even thought about giving up on life. Yet I did not want to be a loser who just had dreams and did not try to accomplish them. With that in mind, I passed the matriculation exam.
After high school, I began pursuing my dream to learn languages. I studied Korean for a year and passed a proficiency exam. I earned scholarships to improve my English skills at the American Center and British Council. Later, I learned Japanese at SEDA (Myanmar Japan Socio Economic Development Association).
Meanwhile, I spent time volunteering as a Korean language teacher at Methodist English Church, a peer tutor at the American Center, and an assistant teacher at Gift of Education and SKY AGE. I went to Naung Ka Lar village in Mon State to volunteer as an English teacher. I volunteered at the Baldwin Library, Mary Chapman School, and Department of Social Welfare School for the Blind.
Among my volunteer experiences, working as a data center volunteer at PACE (People’s Alliance for Credible Election) for the November 2015 election was the most thrilling and memorable experience because we had to work secretly to avoid getting arrested by military intelligence. While I was busy doing community service, I was admitted to the Pre-Collegiate Program (PCP) in Yangon with full scholarship support from City Love and Hope Foundation.
After developing a holistic foundation to study abroad, I applied to Ritsumeikan Asian Pacific University in Japan and was admitted with a 65% scholarship. Unfortunately, my family could not afford to pay the rest of the fees. I had to let go of the opportunity to study in Japan and applied to Chiang Mai University (CMU), where tuition and living costs are less expensive. With consistent effort, I was accepted into the social science program at CMU.
This time, I refuse to let my financial weakness threaten my educational goals. I prepared to overcome financial challenges by applying for scholarships, taking out a student loan, and earning what I can from part-time work.
As a student in the international program at CMU, I look forward to connecting with international students to learn about various practices used in foreign countries to find policies that best fit the situation in Myanmar. CMU will prepare me to become a competent social scientist.
Written by Su Myat with editing assistance from Zomia’s volunteer editors.
“As a student in the international program at CMU, I look forward to connecting with international students to learn about various practices used in foreign countries to find policies that best fit the situation in Myanmar.”
“Though I overcame social anxiety, I am still trying to change people’s harmful perceptions of political prisoners and their children since there are many young people who suffer from trauma caused by the treatment of others.”
Khaing Ei Mon, Dean of Administration of the Pre-Collegiate Program of Yangon
“Su Myat is persistent, resilient and hardworking.”