I was born in Rangoon, Burma (now known as Myanmar, but I still like to call it Burma) and the oldest of 3 children (have a younger sister and brother). When I was 7 yrs old, my parents moved us to Bangkok, Thailand, as the military regime was taking over in Burma; and we all know what happened there. The next 9 years were spent in Bangkok until the Vietnam war was really effecting Bangkok and so my family emigrated from Thailand to the United States. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Without a lot of help from Aunt Julie (my mother's younger sister, now deceased) and her husband (David) we would not have made it, you see, when we left Burma, we had to give up our citizenship and the Burmese government took away our passports - and it's not easy to go anywhere without one, not even in the 70's.
Moving from Bangkok, a metropolitan city, where we went to a British school and had thick English accents to Jamestown, NC (a tiny town between Greensboro & Highpoint) where they had thick Southern accents at the end of the Vietnam war while being Asian (think 'boat people) was far from ideal, but we were thankful to be here. There was a language barrier, although everyone was speaking English. We couldn't understand them and they couldn't understand us. The schools we attended in Bangkok were international with all sorts of nationalities (English, Canadian, Australian, NZ, Philiphinos, Indian, etc.) and kids didn't call us names, throw stones or spit at us. This isn't the America we saw in movies! Needless to say, it was a very hard adjustment, especially for a 16 year old who just wanted to fit in.
My dad, who got a "better" job in Delaware (a schoolmate in NC asked "where is that? In Washington, DC?") moved us a year later to Newark, another small town, but at least it was in the North so the people should be more worldly right? Well, we were still met with ching-chong remarks everywhere we went. Despite all that, I managed to make it to Northern Virginia with the help of my younger sister, who had moved here (Alexandria, VA) after graduating from Penn State.
30 years later, I'm still in Virginia, where Thai restaurants are as ubiquitous as Starbucks (wasn't that way even 10 years ago) and thinking about moving back to North Carolina (to Wilmington, not Jamestown) with my husband and two cats. In that time, I've struggled a lot (financially and emotionally) but I've grown up and want to give back. As I said in the fundraiser page, I want to do this because I think I can really make a difference. The dolphin hunts are still going to go on; Seaworld and other sea parks are still going to buy dolphins and whales to perform; people are still going to abuse and mistreat their pets; and the majority of humans still don't care about what we're doing to the environment, no matter how much I wish it would change. And after all my parents have done for us, it's time for me to do something that matters to them.
I hope I can raise enough money so the school can go on for many years and my parents don't have to worry about this little school in a little village that they built.
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