Su Rah – Burma

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Photo by Maria Kalaitzandonakes

Listen to Su Rah (10th Grade) tell his story.

*Some grammatical/spelling edits have been made to allow better understanding.

I was born in a Burma refugee camp. My birthday is on June 3, 1996. My family moved to a Thailand refugee camp in 2000. I have one brother and three sisters. My family lived in the refugee country for 13 years. I went to school with my sister, Preh Moe, in 2005. I went to school by myself on July 1, 2002. Our house in Karenni burned down in 2008. I went to school before the fire, and I remember my best friends. They looked big and they were nice. They liked to play soccer with me and my brother every day. They taught me how to play soccer.

People who didn’t have a home slept on the street. Student didn’t have school Friday for one week. No school on Friday and the students were happy. My father worked with the Karenna soldiers in Burma. My mother worked in the house. My parents had no work when we lived in the refugee country. They didn’t have work for my parents to do. My family came to America in 2011. Only my mom works in America. My dad stays home every day and he goes to English classes at Douglass.

Reporting by Maria Kalaitzandonakes

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About the author

Maria Kalaitzandonakes

“See zos chickens?” her old Greek grandfather would say pointing to the pigeons, “all of zos are yours.” Growing up, all little girls think they’re princesses. But Maria’s kingdom never had a prince, never a castle. She reigned over her “chickens” and olive trees. Yup, it was all Greek to her. Rules in this kingdom were strict. Only A’s in school. No sleepovers. No painting the walls. In pre-school the teachers had her hearing tested three times, thinking that her piercingly loud voice must come from some sort of deafness. Maria, herself, never realized her life was odd until grade school, when the very American idea of “personal bubble space” puzzled her. And when physically unable to abide by the “arm’s length apart rule” Maria’s teacher gave her a hula hoop, which she had to walk around with as to not disrupt anyone’s personal space. When a little boy bothered her in middle school, Maria’s hot temper (Greek Blood as Maria’s father called it), got the best of her, and she yelled out a curse “gammoto!” and punched him in the face. In high school she embraced the crooked nose, the Christmas boat and the five gallon olive oil tin in her pantry. When Maria’s grandfather first saw a squirrel he said, “See zos fings” pointing to the unknown animal, “Do not be afraid of zem. You are a Greek, baby.” And with that, she had confidence in her future, as a non-squirrel fearing Greek princess. Maria is also the editor in chief for "The Rock" and "Southpaw". You can contact me at [email protected]

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