In the 2018 end-of-year reports for our education projects in Thailand, teachers singled out two outstanding students. Usually, female students earn this honor. This time it was refreshing to see young men get chosen (see below). They are both scholarship students. This is how their teachers see them:


Sai Merng:

Sai Merng is one of the outstanding students from Karn Kanook 1. He is studying in vocational college. Currently, he is 18 years old. He has been studying with SYP for eleven years. At the beginning, his English level was very low compare to other students, but currently, his English is better and got a B+ for English subject. His speaking also has improved because he is not only joining English class in construction site but he also studies his English at Seed center. Overall, his GPA is 3.67. His personality is great, helpful. He always volunteers to things when he knows teachers or friends need. His Math and Shan Language have improved a lot as well, because he could help teacher for teaching in a small class.


Sai Aung Sar:

Sai Aung Sar is a 14 old boy, who studies in grade 8. He is very proactive, communicative, and friendly. His talent is singing songs. He has a good voice and is able to sing different types of song in Thai. He is the one who communicates with all the students and parents if there is any activity in the camp. He will
always help when teachers need or friends need him. He has improved his English subject both in Thai School and SYP’s school.


Here is an overview of Shan migrant school students:

View 17: 10 boys, aged 8 to 15; 15 girls, aged 9 to 19; Total 25 Students

Karn Kanook 1: 12 boys, aged 10 to 20; 9 girls, aged 8 to 16; Total 21 Students

Karn Kanook 2: 11 boys, aged 7 to 13; 18 girls aged 7 to 18; Total 29 students

See Some of our Teachers Below: (Three of them were our former scholarship students)

Some teachers are studying in universities and were not present for this photo. Head teachers are Ying, third from left, and Hseng Murng, far right.

Some teachers are studying in universities and were not present for this photo. Head teachers are Ying, third from left, and Hseng Murng, far right.

Extra-Curricular School Activities: Shan New Year is celebrated by teachers and students at year’s end. Teachers facilitate gift exchanges in the schools, wherein students exchange gifts costing 40 baht (a bit over $1.00 US each), but beautifully wrapped by the stores where they are purchased. Teachers and outsiders are allowed to spend about $3.00 U.S. each.

This winter board member,Yvonne Garcia (back row, second from right below), monitored education activities in Chiang Mai.

Poon Yaing Shan New Year Gift Exchange.

Poon Yaing Shan New Year Gift Exchange.

Above: Teachers relax after gift exchange party, View 17 School.

Above: Teachers relax after gift exchange party, View 17 School.

Ko Aung: The last couple of years Ko Aung, a renowned Shan activist, has visited the schools and brought supplies to the children.  He was imprisoned in Burma during the 1988 student uprising to protest oppressive government policies. In this photo, he is standing with three of our teachers.

A teacher hands out scholarship money.

A teacher hands out scholarship money.

Scholarships: Shan students receive scholarships from us in amounts ranging from $30 per year for elementary school children (the cost of a uniform and shoes); and ranging from $100, $200, or $300 per year for high school and vocational school students, depending upon how far they must travel to attend school. (Transportation costs are expensive.)

In Poon Yaing Migrant Camp, we have befriended twin girls with warm clothing over the years. This year they will start first grade and will receive small scholarships to cover the cost of uniforms and shoes.

Many thanks to everyone who has helped to support these hard-working and deserving Shan parents, children, and youth.

We could not do it without you!

Submitted by: Bernice Johnson, President

                         Shan Refugee Schools, Inc.

Dear friends of Shan Refugees:

Conditions in Burma are abysmal. The military is waging open warfare against people protesting the takeover of their country. It is not just the protesters who are in danger: Loi Kaw Wan, an encampment of Shan displaced persons, on the urma/Thai border north of Chaing Mai, has been shelled and residents cannot farm their land for fear of attack.

In the past, we supported six orphans at this site, and I am deeply saddened by the plight of their people. Below photo is with young women who lived at this encampment.

You can read more about the military coup here: go-on-trial-at-special-court-in-naypyitaw.html

The Burmese military blocked internet service for more than a month. When they still had it, a former student wrote simply, "Scared, Teacher."


Thailand is having a resurgence of COVID cases, and only 1% of the people have been vaccinated.

Our schools have been closed for some weeks and are tentatively scheduled to reopen in early June. When in session, they accomplish amazing things. Here is some information we gleaned from the last report from Shan Youth Power, SYP, which manages the education
programs, wrote about several outstanding students. She studies as Secondary level, grade at Nawamin Payap High School. Nong Tida always has a passion for working at social work organizing, and leading the students in the community for activities
such as organizing reading books, decorating the school to be clean, leading the students for environment activity, encouraging the community to reduce plastic by collecting the money and buying plates, spoons for using in community, such as birthday party. She always happy to join social activity workshops or camps that are provided by Shan Youth Power. She has a strong heart to help the community and wants to see migrant people have better future.

Nong Tida may not be outstanding in language skills such as English but she is an excellent in social work. In SYP, we are not just developing in academic studies, we guide them to be who they are, to follow their dreams. We believe people have different talents, which means that although we cannot be outstanding in everything, at least we do good for people, for society.

Noung Shwe Kyar is one of the outstanding students from KarnKanook2 Migrant School. She has been studying at Chiang Mai Vocational College as a first-year student in Design, academic year 2020.

Her words: I am one of the students who has received a scholarship from Bernice [ie, Schools for Shan Refugees]. I got scholarship since elementary school until grade-9. I knew about this scholarship from one alumni student who is living in the same camp with me. We learned at Migrant school together. I thought that I had difficult circumstances and my family had very low income. This scholarship can provide for food expenses at school or tuition fee. And volunteer teachers from Shan Youth Power also come to teach at our camp. Therefore, I got the scholarship. The difficult thing I have faced is the cost of passport and visa extension fees. There are 4 people in my family and we all are using passports as well... this year there is an additional blood test and covid-19 test. Due to Covid-19 pandemic many people had lost their jobs and it is hard to find a job.

My mom works as a housecleaner during this period it hard for her to get a job too. Especially, if you are migrant workers. Because some employers are afraid of migrant workers. They think that they will get infection with Covid-19 from migrant workers.

For example, we went to clean in a house but they did not want us to enter the house. As for my father, in the past he had many jobs and it was easy to get a job to work. Now, there is not many jobs like before so, it is hard for him to get a job too. And he has to work to pay for food day to day and no savings. In the past, migrant workers like us wouldn't study until high school. They would only study till middle school then start to work. [Our program is extending the education of Shan youth.]

We are completing a report about our teachers—five of whom were migrant camp students and got scholarships from us, some, like Nong Shwe Kyar, for as many as nine years. I will forward it soon.

In the meantime, we are hoping to keep the schools and scholarship programs afloat. We are ever so grateful to those of you who have donated. That money is in safekeeping until the education programs resume. If you have not donated this year and wish to do so, scholarships range from $30.00 per year for elementary students to $100, $200, and $300 per year for older students, attending vocational schools. Donations can be made through Pay Pal at our website: OR you may write a check to Schools for Shan Refugees and send it to

Mary Worner , Treasurer
28424 Water Street Road, Underwood, MN 56586

Many thanks to the Unitarian Universalist Church in Underwood for their continued support in the form of an annual grant. We are grateful. The Shan youth are grateful.

If we remain COVID free into fall, we plan to hold a 3-course Shan dinner fundraiser in Minneapolis. Hold the date: Saturday, October 9!


Bernice Johnson, Vice President Schools for Shan Refugees, Inc.

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