ACU (Australian Catholic University)

Education and Arts

From collecting rubbish to university studies

Kyaw Naing knows more than most of us just how precious education is. He has gone from collecting rubbish to studying in the Diploma of Liberal Studies program at the Australian Catholic university through Marist Mission Ranong. Here is his story...

My name is Kyaw Naing. I was born in April 7, 1986. I attended school when I was five years old. Our village has only grade four, so in order to attend grade five one need to go another place (Long Lo) where is almost two miles from our village.

After I passed grade one, I told my mom several times that "Mom! after I complete grade four, buy a bicycle for me to study grade five" Unfortunately, I had to leave from the school after I finished grade two because of financial problems. I thought it was temporary but it was not temporary.

In 1997, my family had come to Kaw Thaung for work. I worked as a water seller. I earned 50 Kyats per day and I gave this to my mom. I also worked as a garbage collector every evening. While I was collecting garbage, I always saw many students on the road who wore green Long Gyi and white shirts. I was sad, I wanted to be like them but I thought I have no chance to attend the school. I even told myself "You are not to become a student in this life". Every time when I pray I strongly wished to complete school and to be a university student for a better life. Unluckily, my family income was not enough so my parents planned to go Thailand.

In 1999, my family arrived in Ranong for work. We were placed in a charcoal factory where I'm living and working now. Fortunately, I got a friend named Aung Htway who finished ten standards in Myanmar school. I suddenly said to him "I want to be like you." He was surprised and he asked a lot of questions to me. I explained my experiences to him and he felt sorry for me, so he decided to teach me but he was available only for one month.

My first lessons were A-P-P-L-E, B-A-L-L, C-A-T, and O-R-A-N-G-E etc. He suggested for me to buy a Burmese text-book and English-Myanmar dictionary book. After one month, he went back to Myanmar. I bought many text-books and an English-Myanmar dictionary book and I read but I did not really understand. I continued my self-studying when I had free time.

After eight years, I could read Burmese little bit and I knew English vocabularies but I could not speak English. Luckily, I met my friend ( Aung Htway) again. He introduced me to his friend Chit Soe who is learning computers studies at the Community Centre which is a part of Marist Mission Ranong (MMR).

When I was twenty two years old, I became one of the computer students at MMR. While I was learning computer studies, I heard an announcement "Teacher Ta Ta and teacher Ronal will offer English classes in the evening". I was so happy and I joined the class. My beginner level was taught by teacher Ta Ta. I did not understand what teacher Ta Ta explained during the class, but I guessed what the teacher means. Fortunately, I passed beginner class with 65%. Then, I joined intermediate level which was taught by teacher Ronald. I was the worst one in the class. I was the one who put his hand up first when the teacher ask "Who wants to study online (Australia Catholic University)".

When I spoke english, my classmates laughed and teased me and also my teacher did not understand what I'm talking about. But my teacher liked me because I spoke confidently. I recorded the teaching everyday with my computer and I listened at home again. After three years learning with teacher Ronald, I could understand what the teacher explained and my English speaking was getting better.

In 2012, I had an opportunity to join a group called "Future Group" which was an MMR group teaching the kids especially who are out of  school. In Future Group all tutors spoke in English, taught in English and also I had to share with others in English. After a few months, my English had improved so teacher Ronald told me "Kyaw Naing you can join Australia Catholic University next time." I was so happy even I could not sleep the whole night. I told my family and I told my friends "Teacher Ronal told me that I can be join Australia Catholic University next time."

But some friend teased me "You are silly. How come? You just left from grade two in Myanmar. How can you join? You are such a dreamer!". I challenged them "No! I will try. I can do it". I decided to spend all my time in study. I studied very hard. Every day I studied from 7:00 pm to 12:00 am and I listened to English Conversation while I was working in day light. I wrote vocabularies on the white board hanging in my room and work place. I spent more than 8 hours per day for my study thorough more than a year including our Evening Class. My neighbors, friends and classmates thought that I was "being crazy in study". They worried and they suggested I spend more time for my pleasure. Amazingly, I was changed completely. My teachers, neighbors, friends, and my classmates were surprised by my improving. They congratulated me. (ACU). After I studied two months in the MMR Bridging programme, I sat the entrance exam for ACU. I PASSED! I was very happy and I even cried at home and I could not sleep the whole night. Now I'm an Australia Catholic University student studying at University.

Read more stories of the Burmese Migrants in the Marist Mission Ranong Annual Report 2013.

Page last updated: 15 Dec 2015

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