#teens4citizenship—March 2016: Sisters take a long road to Hartford through Burma and Thailand
My name is L. Win Paw. People usually call me Win Paw because they do not know my real name is L. Win Paw. I was born in Burma, but because of the civil war my family moved to the “Mae la Oo Refugee Camp” in Thailand where I grew up. I have 8 siblings, 6 sisters and 2 brothers. Even though we were trying to escape from hard situations, we still had to face a lot of conflict in Thailand. We did not have an opportunity to leave the country and had to stay in the refugee camp to raise our family. The organization called the United Nations tried to help people in the camp. They gave us food, clothes, soap and everything that we needed but it wasn’t enough. And when more refugees came to the camp, the amounts were reduced. After seven years this situation, my father decided to move to the United States. We went through a lot to get to the United States. We had to get a physical examination and everything else. Some people had to wait for so many years.
I came to the United States in May, 2013. When I first came here, the biggest challenge was language. I did not know anything about the U.S. Everything was strange to me, even the food which was completely different. Some food smelled so bad! It was not for me at all! My first day of high school was the worst. I did not have or know anyone besides my sister. I got lost that first day and cried. I did not know where to go or how to communicate with new people. After three months, I got better and felt comfortable.
This is my second year in the US. In three years, I’m looking forward to becoming a U.S. citizen because citizens have more opportunities. They can vote for whomever they want. They also can run for office. In order to become a citizen, you have to prepare a lot of things. You also need to be at least 18 years old, be a permanent resident, and be able to read, write, and speak English. You also need to have a basic understanding of U.S. history and government. My future dream is to become a nurse. After graduating from high school I’m planning to go to college and work on my career. I love my time volunteering at the library. It gives me a lot of experience and prepares me to become a U.S. citizen. Thank you for this opportunity!
Win P and Paw S, Hartford High School students from Burma, via Thailand
Hi, my name is Paw Shee. I was born in Burma. I lived in Thailand before I moved to the U.S. When I lived in Thailand, I went to school from 2nd to 7th grade. Living in Thailand felt just like someone owning you because you had to eat what people gave to you. My family was poor. Sometimes it was hard. Sometimes we didn’t have enough food because I had a big family and the food they gave wasn’t enough for us. Also the education was not very good. It was really hard to find a job because when some people tried to find jobs the soldiers caught them and put them in jail or killed them. It was hard to earn money.
When I first arrived in the U.S., I was so in love with this country! There were taller buildings than I had ever seen, there were a lot of cars, beautiful parks, beautiful roses that I had never seen in my life before! At the same time, I was very scared because I had heard that people kill each other, and that some people kidnap children and students when they walk alone. I remember one thing, my first day of school, that I cried because I didn’t understand what people were saying. Some customs were shocking to me. Some students didn’t understand me, they called me “Chinese.” I felt like they hated me. They laughed at me and I was really scared. I couldn’t understand anything. Even so, living in the U.S. is better than living in Thailand because there are more opportunities, such as education and work. I want to become an American citizen and I have a dream to become an architect!
A partnership between Hartford Public Library and Hartford Public Schools –HPL and HPS offer a variety of opportunities for immigrant teens and adults to learn more about the pathway to citizenship. Teens have the chance integrate citizenship activities into independent studies or senior capstone seminars, take field trips, conduct outreach, or volunteer with Hartford’s adult immigrant communities. Adults may take English and Citizenship classes at Hartford Library, as well as receive bilingual citizenship application assistance from the library’s BIA (Board of Immigration Appeals) accredited staff.
For more information, please contact:
Judy Wyman Kelly, Teen Citizenship Project Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org (301) 503-8035
Homa Naficy, Hartford Public Library Chief Adult Learning Officer, email@example.com(860) 695-6334