The Washington Times-Herald

February 15, 2014

Living the American dream

By Lindsay Owens Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald

---- — Have you ever wondered what it would be like to leave the only life you’ve known and move to a new country? Doh Moo and Sa Be Be, religious refugees from Burma or Mynamar both did just that.

“They gave up everything they knew. They lived in camps where they had no future for jobs or education to come here,” said Lynne Kiesel, facilitator at the Cultural Learning Center.

The two, along with several others who were sent to refugee camps in Thailand, were given hope of a better and safer life. Several of the refugees settled in Indianapolis but because work was available in Washington at Perdue Farms, many have also come to live in the area.

Doh Moo, Sa Be Be and the others have made a life in Washington just like anyone else would. They work. They go to the store. They love Facebook and hanging out with their American friends. But they are also learning to embrace a new culture and learn a new language.

“We went to school in the refugee camps,” said Doh Moo. “I went to school until the 11th grade. We learned to read English and write English but we didn’t really learn to speak it.”

So each week they meet with Kiesel at the Cultural Learning Center where she teaches them about culture, our language and what it is to live in the land of the free.

“They are all eager to learn,” said Kiesel, who has created a special bond with all her students. “They love to meet other Americans and are excited to learn about our culture.”

For one of the students Ayn Myint Htoo (pronounced two) Thursday was a very special day. Htoo was copying her citizenship papers, a step that has been years in the process.

“I’m very excited to be a citizen,” said Htoo. “I send in these papers and then they will tell me when I will have the (swearing in) ceremony.”

The ceremony will most likely take place in Indianapolis.

Htoo’s sister and nephew have already become citizens and know the process.

“It is exciting,” said Htoo, who said when her children turn 18 they can apply for citizenship as well.

Along with her papers, Htoo was also presented information on citizenship from the Daughters of the American Revolution and a piggy bank to help with money saving.