No Matter The Challenge: Finding Myself and My Future

My name is Zayar Min and I was born in Yangon, Myanmar...

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My name is Zayar Min and I was born in Yangon, Myanmar. Both my parents were illiterate. Because of our financial hardship, my father could not fully support our education. My mother died from untreated diabetes in 2008 due to our poverty. My challenges have brought me to where I am today and now I feel that I am closer to knowing and being who I truly am. As a son and brother, a refugee, a student, and now a mentee I believe that I will be the person I hope to become; one who can help my community with the best of my abilities because of everything I have gone through and all I’ve learned from others.

When I was young, we moved to a Thailand migrant area called Maesot to pursue education for me and my siblings. Once in Thailand, after eight months of struggles in Umphiem Refugee camp, I got was lucky to enter Grade 6 and continued to Grade 12. The curriculum I learned in the camp was in the Karen language, and it was difficult for me to focus on my studies. But, I did not give up. Because of my resilience and determination, I achieved the second-highest rank in the 12th grade among all seven refugee camps in Thailand. After high school, I attended the English Immersion Program (EIP) and studied English, Community Development, Human Rights, and Teaching Training lessons. 

To give back to my community, I interned as a psychological counselor with the American Refugee Committee (ARC) to develop service provision in my community in 2016. Throughout the year, I gained more knowledge related to the lives of different people and their backgrounds and human needs, and identified proper communication channels. 

After my internship, I studied at the Australia Catholic University (ACU) where I obtained a Diploma in Liberal Studies. I met multi-ethnic people in ACU and during these two years, I found my dream of promoting the relationship among the ethnic groups. After ACU, I became confident to speak in English and to take responsibility for the leadership role. To contribute the skills, I obtained from ACU to my community, I worked as an organizational development training coordinator in a CBO (Community-Based Organization) called Maetao Clinic, Ethnic Health System Strengthening Group (EHSSG) which delivers and promotes ethnic health systems in the areas where the government cannot provide them.

Today I am a first-year student at Rangsit University in Thailand thanks to the support of the Child Dream Foundation. Due to the pandemic of COVID-19, I could not enter to Thailand and study at the University’s campus. Already University is academically challenging and especially now with studies exclusively online. I am challenged to develop time management habits and try to overcome feeling of being overwhelmed.

All of this has brought to today, but the challenges have not ended. I have now lost my ability to concentrate on studying and I’m struggling because of the current political uncertainty in Myanmar. Since on February 2021, Myanmar’s military seized control of the country on Monday and detained leading politicians, including Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. The army declared a state of emergency for one year, accusing authorities of failing to resolve allegations of fraud in November’s election. The actions of the military are actions to put the country back under a dictatorship. At least 18 people were killed and many people were injured in bloodiest day of Myanmar anti-coup protests. All the citizens of Myanmar want to get federal democracy but it is obvious that military especially General Min Aung Hlaing is destroying our future and hope. We Shall not surrender till the end of the world. We will do everything we can to stop this bullying, abusive killing and preserve our democracy. It is our duty to protect our democracy. 

While dealing with this turmoil and deep emotions, I have become a part of MENTEE. Mentoring is an essential part of career development and I felt drawn to join. Since I became a mentee, the questions that I am asking myself is, “What are my obstacles that I cannot overcome yet?” And, “Is there anything that stop me to reach my goal?” I have tried really hard to solve my fear, depression, concerns about my country, and personal time mismanagement issues, but I feel it’s more than I can manage alone. I realized that I needed guidance from the experienced mentors I have access to and who can help steer me in the right direction.  

Although this is the first time I have been a mentee, I already see how valuable mentorship is. I have met with one mentor and he helped me to define the area I wanted to improve regarding to my goals and expectations. I realized what’s truly important for me and where I would like to see myself in the future. I gained understanding about how to put knowledge into practice.

Although I cannot always find my focus on my studies due to the distractions around me, let alone the practical concerns of having access to Wi-Fi, I am doing my best with the help of my mentors to manage my time and focus. The new skills I have learned have pushed me out of my comfort zone and in the direction of achieving my dreams.

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