Audio Recording of Interview
Lell Thin describes his life in Burma under an oppressive government, his family’s move to a Thai refugee camp, and their eventual resettlement to the U.S. in pursuit of better education for the children. Although he left at a young age, Lell expresses a desire to return home to his family’s land and the land of his Karen people.
Other interviews of this person can be found below:
This interview was recorded in two parts, so you may hear sudden shifts in conversation as a result. The second part begins at 8:22.
Narrator: Lell Thin
Content Warning: Mentions of fighting and killing.
Summary: Lell Thin describes his life in Burma under an oppressive government, his family’s move to a Thai refugee camp, and their eventual resettlement to the U.S. in pursuit of better education for the children. Although he left at a young age, Lell expresses a desire to return home to his family’s land and the land of his Karen people.
Topics: Conflict journey, childhood, conditions back home, cultural adjustment, education, immigration process, family, religion, culture, language, home, identity, war, general differences, employment
Section 1: (00:00- 2:44)
Conflict journey - From Myanmar and then went to Thailand and then came to the US in fall of 2006.
Childhood, conditions back home - Talks about how there was no democracy in Myanmar and how his parents went to a Thailand refugee camp called Tham Hin. He was 10 years old when they went to the camp. Remembers it being crowded and lived there only one year. Did go to school. 6 people in his family, one sister, three brothers (including him), mother and father.
Section 2: (2:45-7:20)
Cultural adjustment, education, family - Thought US was fun when he first got there, thought it was very different from where he came from-- different nature and different school. Had fun hanging out with different people. Parents came to US to give their children a better education.
Immigration process, family - Came to US in a group and got separated into different states. Have extended family in Utah. Only his dad visited them in Utah once.
Section 3: (7:22-8:22)
Religion - He is Christian and said his faith helped him along the journey. He said that they prayed for a better life.
Section 1: (00:00- 1:48)
Culture, language, education- He said that the Karen people at his school spoke Karen to each other. They had separate classes together (ESL classes). Said that the Karen people in school helped each other out. Also mentions that American teachers helped him too.
Section 2: (1:49-10:02)
Home, identity, conditions back home- Says that Karen people have hard lives and that some Karen people don't like to be in the US and want to go back. He wants to go back. He misses home. He used to live on a rice farm. His family had their own land.
Family - Dad's family is in the US (Utah and Philadelphia). Mon's family is still back in her country. Can't come because they don't have passports and can't go back to visit them (need money to do so).
War, generational differences - Left it back in the civil war he thinks. Left because of the fighting and killing. Grandpa died in the war. He doesn't remember the war much because he was young. Mentions that old people are still affected by their memories of the war.
Section 3: (10:03-14:12))
Conflict journey, family - Had to escape through a different path so they weren't caught. His parents were already in the refugee camp so his mother's sister's husband took care of him and his brother (two other siblings born later in camp) during the journey and dropped them off before going back to his own family. Lell had to climb the mountain and follow, walked without water, carried everything themselves (food, supplies).
Family, employment - Lell is the oldest sibling in his family. Doesn't know if he likes being a big brother. Currently wants to go apply to jobs.