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Win Min

Photo by Paul Neevel.
Photo by Paul Neevel.

“I would like to be a useful person and bring a good change to people’s lives,” says Win Min, who grew up in Sin Tae, a farming village in western Myanmar. An avid learner in primary school, he was shocked, at age 11, when his parents told him they couldn’t afford tuition. A year of hard work on the family farm earned him permission to travel to Mandalay, where he learned that tuition was free at the Buddhist monastery’s high school. “I started learning English,” says Win Min, who memorized Myanmar history and became a tourist guide. “For six years, I took them up Mandalay Hill.” After graduation, he accepted an offer from the U.S. Embassy to study at the American Center in Rangoon. He became a community activist, bringing English teachers into monastery schools and enlisting teenagers in an elder-care project. “Then Cyclone Nargis hit and everything stopped,” says Win Min, who spent a year volunteering on recovery efforts. In 2010, he came to the UO on a scholarship offer through the International Cultural Service Program. A year away from his degree in the Planning, Public Policy and Management program, he hopes to finish a master’s before returning to Myanmar. “I’ve been a cultural ambassador,” he says. “I’ve been to senior centers and high schools. When I go back, I’ll work to make sure that everyone can get a good education.”