Tuayluen is 20 years old and about to complete her first year at Chiang Mai Rajabhat university. She is studying for a Bachelor of Education (Thai).
She was born in Thailand and has lived all her life in a bamboo hut in the Rock Village, one of the communities which Kwah Dao has worked with for over a decade, with her mum, dad and grandmother.
Her parents came to Thailand from Burma about 22 years ago with her older brother in search of a better life and better work, as there was little opportunity in the village they came from.
Her mum works in a guesthouse and her dad is a day labourer – both earn below the minimum wage. Tuayluen says that they are happy together (although others report that her dad drinks a lot and they are struggling financially).
As her older brother has moved back to Myanmar with his wife and child, her parents are not sure if they will stay in Thailand forever, however Tuayluen is definite that she wants to stay in Thailand – although she doesn’t have citizenship, it is the only home she knows. She is currently stateless but she does have a Thai birth certificate, so hopes that one day this will entitle her to claim Thai citizenship.
Tuayluen has been working since she was in Grade 8 to pay for her school expenses. She has worked selling food and goods to tourists, and packing souvenirs to be sold in a local shop. She didn’t mind working, as the work was easy and it didn’t make her too tired, but it didn’t leave her much time to study.
However, Tuayluen loved school and worked hard to maintain a very good GPA. She is very aware of how important an education is and the efforts that her family have already put in to get her this far. Her older brother has never been to school, and worked since he was a child. She feels that she needs to make this investment in her worthwhile, and as such is committed to succeeding in her education as far as she has the opportunity to do so. As well as school and work Tuayluen also attended English lessons in Kwah Dao’s After School Program. We enjoyed having her as she is sweet and eager to learn, funny and smart.
Tuayluen wants to be a high school teacher, teaching Thai, which is her favourite subject. She has always dreamed of being a teacher. At Kwah Dao’s Summer School in both 2015 and 2016 Tuayluen gained some work experience teaching Shan literacy to the kids in our After School Program and helping run activities. She really enjoyed the experience, and was incredibly helpful to the staff and volunteers. She found her first year at university challenging with a heavy workload, but is enjoying it and still maintaining her fantastic grades: at the end of the first semester she achieved a GPA of 3.58.