My name is Wah and I was born in Thailand and thanks to my parents, I didn’t have to live in Myanmar where people were killed. Some Karen people had been running from Myanmar’s soldiers through their whole lives. My parents moved to Thailand hoping to start a new life and that is where I was born. When I was 8 years old, they decided to go live with my grandma in a Karen refugee camp, with the money they had. My parents were going to rebuild her house and live together as a big family.
Before my family moved to live with my grandma, I went to Thai school for four years. After we moved, I went to Karen school in the refugee camp. In the Karen refugee camp there were no restrooms or things to eat in the afternoon. There are a lot of different things that Karen school doesn’t have like Thai school did. The school’s walls were made out of bamboo and the building was old. Each class is different, some don’t have floors so some students sit on the ground.It get worst when is raining season, water came down from ceiling like water fall. I wish someone would fix school up.
Even though I am Karen in blood, I didn’t know how to speak, read, or write in Karen. It is hard to learn your own language at first but it gets easier as I stay there. In school the teacher taught more than one language like Burmese and Karen. The words are almost the same but sound different. I learned more than three language at once but It was too hard for me so I just focused on Karen language. At home my parent only speak in Karen so I understand little of what they said. Sometimes if they didn’t want me to know what they said then they speak in Burmese which makes me curious.
In school I sometimes have hard time learning things so the teacher sometimes uses physical force to teach and it works. I got used to it quick and learned what happens if I didn’t get it in my head the first time. Sometimes I fear school so much that I cry at night worrying about undone work.
I lived in the Karen camp for 3 years and then moved to the US. But, moving from place to place, I have to learn to adapt to new cultures, people and languages.
My goal for this project is to share what is like being in Karen school.
Post Written by Wah Poe
My name is Khu Htoo and I was born in a Karen refugee camp in Myanmar. Before I came to United States, I lived with my family for more than 12 years in the refugee camp. My family and my people had to escape Myanmar during the war because we would be killed if the Burmese soldiers saw us. The war is known as the invisible war because it is going on in Myanmar and not a lot of people or nations know about it. A lot of Karen villages were burned down, so we had to live in refugee camps in Thailand.
When I came to United States, I felt discouraged because people don’t know about the Karen people. They didn’t know where we came from and why we came to the United States. As more and more Karen people moved to the United States as refugees, we become a minority group but we are not recognized yet.
It was memorable during the first month of our arrival in Lincoln. I remember my first day at Park Middle School because it didn’t go well. I felt invisible, like a ghost, because when I talked, people didn’t understand what I was saying. It was like I was from another world and went to the unknown world. When I arrived, I didn’t know which entrance to take, so I just followed people inside the school. When I got into the school I was so confused because I didn’t know what to do and didn’t know how to ask for help. So, I just stood by the locker room until one of the teacher came up to me and assisted me. Later, that teacher became one of my favorite teachers and she had a powerful impact in my life.
We, the Karen students, wanted to create this blog to share with others about who we are. What does our culture look like? What are our stories? Lastly, how do Karen people live and work in Lincoln?
My name is Paw Say. I was born in Burma and my family came to the United States in 2008. Before we came to the U.S., we lived in Thailand. I go to Lincoln High School and I am now a junior. My goal for this project is to gain more knowledge and skills in writing and using computer. I want to show others about our Karen community in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Back in Burma, I used to live in a village called Tha Ya Kone. We lived a simple life with no electricity, no running water. We used fire to cook. We got food by hunting, farming, or finding it in the mountains. There was one school in our village. Children from my village and children from other villages also attended our school. It wasn’t a very big school, it was just a plain building with students of all grades tucked together in a section. There are only a couple of teachers in the school. Our school offers class until 5th grade and usually after this most people move to a bigger town to continue with school or they just stop and work on a farm.
I moved from my village to live with my aunt just after I finished second grade to continue school. At the same time, one of my brothers moved to Thailand and a cousin whom I grew up with also went to live with her uncle. All of us lived in separate places and that was my first time living apart from my parents. This got complicated after a year, my whole family moved to a refugee camp in Thailand for a better life.
Living in a refugee camp was just as normal as living in my village. However, it was hard to adjust at first because the camp was crowded with many people and the place wasn’t as clean. Since the place wasn’t that clean, there were all kinds of diseases and people could get sick easily. There were also few hospitals in the camp, and instead of collecting our own food, the U.N. provided us with food rations.
After living there for a period of time, things seemed to be very normal. I got used to the place and met new friends. After 4 years of living in Thailand, my family moved again to the U.S. which is a completely different place and it took us a while to adapt. At the time when we first moved to Lincoln, our Karen community was small. Now, our Karen community is getting bigger so it is important to show others about our culture.