Hi! My name is Jamie Denenberg. I have a double major in International Relations and Economics with a double minor in Peace and Justice studies and Jewish Studies. This past summer I spend 7 weeks interning at Thai Freedom House in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Thai Freedom House provides free community education for the local Burmese minority refugees in the local area. Burma is notoriously known for its violence toward their ethnic minorities. Currently, there are around 3 million Burmese refugees living in Thailand. Throughout my time at Thai Freedom House I was able to work directly with the refugees while seeing the difficulties, and rewards, connected to running an International NGO. While I did many things during my time there, the most rewarding experiences came while I I was tutoring an 18-year-old girl, Own Khin. Own Khin came from the Shan State in Burma and was working in Thailand for the summer.
Due to the structure of the Burmese education sytem, Own Khin was unable to pass Burma’s standardized tests to complete Grade 10. For two hours a day, five days a week I met with her for one-on-one English tutoring which will hopefully help her pass the English section of her exam. The impact of this tutoring did not resonate with me until I received a text message from her the day I was leaving Thailand, simply stating “I will always remember you.-Own Khin”. Working in Thailand has not only taught me about the Burmese culture, but the important impact a grassroot NGO can make on people’s lives. Without Thai Freedom House, many of the students would not have an opportunity to get an education. This experience has reiterated my love for travel and working with different cultures.