Girl Scouts Meet Chin Students
Newsletter: March 2014
Ring Kimi and Bawi Chin, students from Harmon High School, were interviewed by Becky Nelson, Director of Chin Refugee Ministry, as part of Girl Scout Global Thinking Day.
Approximately 80 girls ranging from ages 5-15 and their adult leaders from The Girl Scouts of Service Unit 407, heard Kimi and Bawi speak on the differences in elementary education between their home country of Burma and the United States. The girls were asked to think about things like what it would be like to have a school without electricity.
During the question and answer session, the younger American girls were most concerned about the Chin girls’ statement that the teacher would hit them with a stick if they could not recite the definitions of the 50 English words they had been given the day before for homework.
Ring Kimi and Bawi Chin, for their part, were most impressed with the displays featuring different countries girls had researched, including maps, food samples, clothing, and important facts about the country.
CRM Board Announcement
Chin Refugee Ministry recently established a Board with the purpose to establish structure, direction, and accountability for the ministry. The Board provides guidance and oversight on the organizational and financial aspects of CRM in order to increase the overall effectiveness of the ministry’s efforts and better serve the Chin population in Lewisville.
The Board is comprised of 10 individuals from diverse backgrounds and churches throughout the area. They currently meet twice a month and are presided by Rik Massengale, who leads the Board’s discussions and reflections. The new CRM Board members are comprised of the following individuals:
- Rik Massengale, Chairman of the Board (The Village Church)
- Becky Nelson, Executive Director, Chin Refugee Ministry (First Baptist Church—Flower Mound)
- Jo Lynn Black, Board Member (First Baptist Church—Lewisville)
- Joey Dean, Board Member (First United Methodist Church—Lewisville)
- Michael Honeycutt, Board Member (The Village Church)
- Robert Maxey, Board Member (Valley Creek Church)
- Gilbert Montez, Board Member (The Village Church)
- Lal Nung Sang, Board Member (Bethel Baptist Chin Church)
- John Sher, Board Member (The Village Church)
- Ryan Jackson, Advisor to the Board (The Village Church)
|A Note from Our Director
I had the pleasure of interviewing Kimi and Bawi in front of the Girl Scout Service Unit 407 from Flower Mound. Kimi and Bawi both went to school in Burma through the 4th grade.
Many of the cultural differences I already knew. For example, if parents can’t pay school fees, children can’t go to school. If their village doesn’t have enough people who can pay the school fee, the village doesn’t have a school. If parents can’t pay for the school supplies, students go without. If parents don’t have money to bribe a teacher, students may not get a good grade.
Chin students are taught in Burmese, not their own language of Chin. They also learn English at the same time they are learning Burmese; the two languages don’t even use the same alphabet. In addition, the schools have no electricity, running water, indoor plumbing, or technology.
But the hardest for me personally is “being hit with a stick.” I heard one of the leaders say, “it hasn’t been that long ago that American schools were allowed to hit their students with a stick.” But in my experience “corporal punishment” in schools was because of disrespect or breaking the rules, not because you make a mistake on a vocabulary test.
As 4th graders, Kimi’s and Bawi’s memories of having 50 English words to learn, with their meanings, every night as homework, then being hit with a stick if they couldn’t remember all the words, explains so much to me about why adults coming from that system are so afraid to speak English, for fear of making a mistake. I am always still saddened by the harshness of the lives of the Chin people and so humbled by their achievements.
Director, Chin Refugee Ministry