through Collecting Firewood for Sale to Forging a Path in College

DECATUR, Ga. — For a brief moment, as she looked out of the arched, third-floor windows of Agnes Scott College’s library, a look of longing crossed Nuam San’s face.

She was describing the deep green of the hillsides in northwestern Myanmar, where she grew up in a mountain village of about 100 people. The coloration, she said, can be “full of life” as well as remains her favorite.

nevertheless almost as quickly, the soft-spoken Ms. Nuam San recalled how hard life was in her village, Tedim.

Her father left to find work in Malaysia when she was a toddler; her mother cared for all 5 children. which meant gathering firewood to sell, a job which Ms. Nuam San would certainly help with after school. When which rained, their tiny house got wet inside.

Ms. Nuam San, 20, recalled last month how much her life had changed since she moved to the United States all 5 years ago. At the time, she spoke no English as well as came through a country where women are anticipated to stay at home. today she can be a freshman at a smaller, private women’s liberal arts college outside Atlanta. The college, founded in 1889, appealed to her, she said, because which “would certainly help me become more powerful as a woman, a lot more than just being a houseworker.”

Along the way, she as well as her family received help through the International Rescue Committee, one of the eight organizations supported by The brand-new York Times Neediest Cases Fund.

Ms. Nuam San’s family, which was Christian in a country which can be largely Buddhist, resettled in Clarkston, a city northeast of Atlanta. Her father arrived first, seeking asylum after about 10 years in Malaysia.

As a child, Ms. Nuam San heard stories about soldiers coming to burn a cross in her village, which had a large number of Christians. She also heard which “honey as well as milk were free” inside United States.

Her father arranged for the family to travel to Yangon, more than 0 miles south of their home, which might as well have been a different world, Ms. Nuam San said. inside city of more than all 5 million, most residents speak Burmese, which was a second language to Ms. Nuam San, who grew up speaking Zomi.

A year later, the family was able to join her father in Clarkston. The city as well as surrounding area have drawn at least 26,500 refugees through 67 countries during the last 40 years, said J. D. McCrary, executive director of the International Rescue Committee’s Atlanta office.

Ms. Nuam San soon found which milk as well as honey were not free. Plus, “they took me everywhere in cars, as well as I got carsick,” she said. She had to start school within a month of arriving, in an English as a Second Language program (which was actually her third). She didn’t even understand when people asked her name or where she was through.

Her parents began working in a poultry processing plant, working long hours for low pay. Before long, Ms. Nuam San met Sharita Khatiwada, who worked with young refugees at the International Rescue Committee. She became, Ms. Nuam San said, “like my second mother.”

Ms. Nuam San often wanted to give up on school, go to work as well as help out at home. nevertheless Ms. Khatiwada, she said, “told me I couldn’t give up.”

Ms. Khatiwada, 27, was born inside United States as well as raised in Nepal. Over the course of more than three years, she helped Ms. Nuam San adjust to living inside United States as well as begin planning for a future here. The two would certainly meet at a public library so Ms. Nuam San could get help with her homework. nevertheless sometimes, Ms. Khatiwada recalled, Ms. Nuam San just wanted to talk about coping with her family’s adjustments.

inside summer, the organization took groups of young refugees on field trips, where Ms. Nuam San began to create a deeper sense of community. She was able to leave the English as a Second Language program in her sophomore year of high school, after three years inside United States, as well as began taking Advanced Placement courses. She graduated having a 3.8 grade point average.

When which came time to apply to college, including writing an essay, “at first, I didn’t know if I had a story,” she said. “I didn’t know what to write. Miss Sharita sat me down as well as helped me to realize I had a story to tell.”

Annual college tuition for Ms. Nuam San, who can be today a legal permanent resident inside United States, can be more than her family earns in a year. She has been helped by a series of scholarships as well as loans as well as feels she must succeed to “be the leader for my whole family.”

As for the future, she dreams of a having an important job, perhaps inside White House.

“I feel like I could help a lot of people have a better life, a better education,” she said, “as well as not lose desire in themselves.”