Mae Ra Moe: Where I'm From

This is the final post in my series about the Mae Ra Moe refugee camp where I taught for three weeks.
I taught autobiographical poetry to the students at Mae Ra Moe Junior College during my last week at the camp.  Although writing poetry was a new experience for them, many of the students approached the task with enthusiasm.  They were very reluctant to share their work in class but each day more and more students would share.  By the last day, more than 70 students wanted their poems on the Where I’m From poetry website.

Photo by Moo Moo

I saw each class for a total of three to five times, so our time was limited and we just covered the basics, but the students worked hard and wrote a lot.  They wrote about being a refugee, longing for peace, searching for opportunities, the desire to help their people, the importance of an education.  They also wrote about the everyday lives of college students, including love interests, studying for exams and doing chores at home.  
I hope that readers will visit the poetry website to learn more about the lives of these incredible students and perhaps leave a comment on the poetry site for them.   Scroll down for some samples.

Photo by Moo Moo

Moo Moo, the photographer, hard at work

He has given permission to have his photo posted.

 

Just because

Just because I’m Karen
Doesn’t mean I’m a refugee
Doesn’t mean I’m homeless
Doesn’t mean I have no country.
 
Just because I’m Karen
Doesn’t mean I want to leave home
Doesn’t mean I like the conflict
Doesn’t mean I’m a rebel.
 
Just because I’m Karen
Doesn’t mean I want to be a refugee
Doesn’t mean I’m a beggar
And expect from others.
 
Just because I’m Karen
Why should I become a refugee?
 
What would you comment?
What is life without freedom?
Just because I’m Karen.
 
by a Karen boy Age 20
Mae Ra Moe Junior College Mae Ra Moe Refugee Camp, Thailand

 

Just because

Just because I’m a young lady
Doesn’t mean I need a boyfriend
Doesn’t mean I like fashion things
Doesn’t mean I wear sexy clothes.
 
Just because I’m a young lady
Doesn’t mean I’m rude
Doesn’t mean there are boys beside me
And I think about money.
 
Just because I’m a young lady
Doesn’t mean I’m game to play
Doesn’t mean I’m less scared
And walking around the town at night.
 
Just because I’m a young lady
What would you comment?
 
What is age?
What is the world without land?
Just because I’m a young lady.
 
by Kaw Lady Moo Age 18
Mae Ra Moe Junior College Mae Ra Moe Refugee Camp, Thailand
I’m an MRMJC student in the second year class.  My dream is to be a doctor.  My favorite subject is science.

 

I was . . . I am

I am a Karen and love peace
When I was a child
I lived in a rural village
Because I didn’t have freedom
I am a Karen and love peace.
 
I am a Karen and love peace
When I was a child
I didn’t have a school in my village
All my villagers were farmers
I am a Karen and love peace.
 
I am a Karen and love peace
I decide my future for myself
I will change my rural village situation
I will improve my nation
I am a Karen and love peace.
 
I am a Karen and love peace
I need the whole world to have peace
I hope one day it will be
I don’t want to see conflict anywhere
I am a Karen and love peace.
 
by Wah Nay Htee Age 20
Mae Ra Moe Junior College Mae Ra Moe Refugee Camp, Thailand

 

I am
I am a general who loves peace.
I fight for peace, to save my Karen people.
I hear the Karen people need freedom to be free.
I dream for my people and my country.
I am a general who loves peace.
 
I touch the poor children who can’t go to school.
I worry that I cannot get my freedom.
I cry if somebody oppresses my people.
I build a school if somebody wants to learn.
I want to teach to give everyone ability.
 
I understand what all my people want.
I try to give my talents for them.
I hope to send my people to become the leaders.
I feel that my people learn a few skills.
I am a general who loves peace.
by Saw Char Say Age 22
Mae Ra Moe Junior College Mae Ra Moe Refugee Camp, Thailand

Comments (18):

  1. Lori

    June 20, 2017 at 07:02

    Just beautiful! Thank you for sharing, Tim!

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      June 23, 2017 at 04:44

      Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  2. Millie

    June 20, 2017 at 08:45

    Beautiful work. I am amazed with so little time to teach and the quality of the four poems. You must be very proud of these students.
    ” I was…I am” is so full of hope, it made me start to cry. I can’t wait to read more poems.

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      June 23, 2017 at 04:45

      I’m glad the emotion is coming through. After typing more than 70 poems I wasn’t so sure. Thanks for checking them out.

      Reply
  3. Melissa

    June 20, 2017 at 09:56

    Love the poems! I dent want this to be your last post about MRM. I know you said you done want to write about your personal experience there but I feel I might not be alone in wanting to read a post about that. Just an idea…

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      June 23, 2017 at 04:46

      Thanks for the idea! I may get around to writing more, but I think I’m still processing the whole experience right now.

      Reply
  4. Rosie

    June 20, 2017 at 21:11

    Many deep thoughts within the writing of these individuals. Touching for sure.
    I agree with Melissa, don’t make it your last post! Must be so much more to share.
    Be well and enjoy each new day!

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      June 23, 2017 at 04:47

      Thanks. I’ll try to share more, but every day brings more and more experiences to share as well.

      Reply
  5. Julie Aquilizan

    June 21, 2017 at 00:13

    The poems are so beautiful and expressive. I’m impressed with the English and the student’s ability to communicate their thoughts and feelings so well! Thank you for sharing, Tim. I hope you will share more about your experiences at MRM. It is very interesting and insightful!

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      June 23, 2017 at 04:48

      Thanks, Julie. These students are not confident in their English, but they are willing to take risks and work hard to learn.

      Reply
  6. Vicky Ann Deledda

    June 21, 2017 at 07:39

    Wow, Tim! This brings back feeling fortunate that I was able to go into a classroom with you in Vietnam and experience your international teaching style- you might have to take a job teaching at the UN when you get back….
    Will check out the poetry site- I know how important it is to the students. Thank you for being you✏️

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      June 23, 2017 at 04:49

      Yes, I remember I had to ask you to stop talking while I was trying to teach! But then you did take some great pictures. 🙂

      Reply
  7. Elaine Temel

    June 28, 2017 at 15:52

    It is incredible how universal these ideas are…love, family, safety, dreams, peace….

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      July 1, 2017 at 08:16

      Yes, I love seeing how much we all have in common.

      Reply
  8. Karen Chapman

    July 2, 2017 at 21:05

    There’a hope for this world w/the upcoming generation!

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      July 11, 2017 at 09:21

      Very true!

      Reply
  9. Brent

    May 21, 2020 at 11:58

    I wish people could see that these Karan’ are good people .

    Reply
    • Tim Flanagan

      May 26, 2020 at 21:25

      Thanks for the comment, Brent. Yes, they are good people.

      Reply

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