"My family’s migrant journey begins during World War II, when my mother’s family migrated from Nepal to Myanmar, and my father’s family from China to Myanmar. My parents met in Tamu – a turbulent town on the Myanmar-India border in 1986 – and later married. Marriage between different ethnic groups was rare at the time, but my parents defied convention.
I was born in Tamu in 1993, and spent the first nine years of my life there. We had 14 dogs at our house, which I later learned were there to protect us from the thieves that regularly tried to break in. I often heard gunfire as a child – fighting between the local rebel group Manipur and the Border Security Force – but I didn’t realize that was unusual. Life in Tamu was all I knew. I still cherish the childhood I had there.
When I was nine, my parents decided that it was too dangerous to stay in Tamu. My father travelled to Yangon, the capital of Myanmar. He found a house and sent for the rest of our family to join him there. Since the day we left for Yangon, I have never returned to Tamu, and there are many aspects of it – my friends, our home and local delicacies – that I still miss.
Once in Yangon, my two sisters and I became immersed in our studies. My parents had high expectations of us, and I had promised them from a young age that I would eventually pursue a doctorate. This was especially important to my mother, who never had the opportunity to go to university. In 2009, my mother, grandmother and eldest sister moved to Bangkok, Thailand. I joined them one year later to pursue my dream of higher education. My father stayed behind Yangon (he doesn’t like travelling), and it’s hard being away from him. I try to talk to him every day; my sisters, mom, grandmother and I take turns going back so that he doesn’t get lonely.
I studied Thai when I arrived in Bangkok. It wasn’t easy, but I’ve found that being able to communicate has helped me adapt to our new home and better understand Thailand’s culture. I’m also volunteering at the Bangkok Art & Cultural Centre, where my knowledge of Myanmar, Nepali and Chinese, English and Thai comes in handy!
There are lots of differences between life in Yangon and Bangkok, the most notable being electricity. When I left Yangon, there were still regular power cuts. It was incredible arriving in Bangkok and finding that there was always electricity at home.
Looking ahead, I’m hoping to work for a few years before beginning my doctorate. I haven’t decided where to go yet, but I might return to Yangon, so I can spend time with my father. I’m also considering studying in the United States, but my mom told me that I can only go if one of my sisters goes with me. I feel blessed to have already had the opportunity to live and learn in two different countries, and excited for the journey the future holds."