"My parents migrated from Burma after an uprising in 1988, but even though I’m ethically Burmese, I have never been to Myanmar.
I was born and raised in Thailand. I studied in Thai schools from Kindergarten all the way through high school. I found it hard to make friends with other kids, and I was afraid of telling other kids that I am Burmese because I thought they might discriminate against me. I had different skin color, mindset and language from everyone else. My classmates did not want to play with me and preferred to make friends with other Thai kids. I’m not sure whether it was because I’m Burmese or that we did not look alike.
However, a big change came for me during high school. Those who avoided playing with me became my close friends. I think it was because they didn’t take our differences so seriously anymore. I myself found that I have more similarities with Thai people than differences. Moreover, my friends and I did activities together; I’m a singer who sings in Thai, and we set up a band, occasionally joining contests.
In my last year of school, I was elected as president of the student council. This is one of my most wonderful memories I have of school. I’m so proud of it because I am a migrant and at the time I didn't have an official nationality, but my friends and other students trusted me to be their leader. I’m really thankful for this. I’m not afraid of telling anybody that I’m a migrant anymore. I think it is good to be honest with both others and myself.
After graduating from high school, I sought opportunities to study abroad and finally got a scholarship from a university in the U.S. In 2016 I started studying at the University of Maine in the Biochemistry department. I plan to continue studying as a doctor after I complete this degree.
Staying in the U.S. has introduced me to lots of new experiences; it is fun and enjoyable. However, it does not feel like home. Even though I am not originally Thai, I feel that Thailand is my home. I like Thailand, especially the food — it’s very delicious. Therefore, after graduating from the University of Maine as a doctor, I plan to come back to Thailand and work at Chiang Mai’s Ram Hospital.
I want to encourage other migrants to follow their dreams. Even if you’re a migrant or a person without a nationality, it doesn’t mean you can't do what you want with your life. We can study, we can work and we can contribute too many good things to society. It’s all up to you. Please don’t give up and one day I believe you will get it. I waited for 19 years and now I’m so happy to say that I’m Thai."