Thang Mun Sum
Audio Recording of Interview
A refugee from Myanmar, Sumpi describes his experience moving to Malaysia and the United States, as well as his Christian identity and its impact on his life. He discusses his transition from being an illegal immigrant in Malaysia to new opportunities for education and work in the United States, as well as the Burmese community that he found in Dallas, Texas.
Other interviews of this person can be found below:
Narrator: 'Sumpi' Thang Mun Sum
Location: Via Zoom
Summary: A refugee from Myanmar, Sumpi describes his experience moving to Malaysia and the United States, as well as his Christian identity and its impact on his life. He discusses his transition from being an illegal immigrant in Malaysia to new opportunities for education and work in the United States, as well as the Burmese community that he found in Dallas, Texas.
Topics: Faith, cultural differences, prayer, working legally, being illegal, family, church, helping refugees
Section 1: (00:00-04:15)
Time in Burma- Talks about his hometown and family. Glad to have siblings to depend on.
Cultural Differences- Discussed the difference between American and Burmese culture, specifically living with family past the age of 18.
Section 2: (04:16-15:03)
Religious Background, Faith- Speaks about his identity as a Christian and the role of faith in his childhood. Recounts that went to Sunday School and had religious parents, says religion is an important part of his life.
Time in Malaysia, Faith- Discusses the difficulty of life in Malaysia, having no legal papers and not being able to go to school or work. Explains that his faith in God gives him the courage to deal with difficulties. Describes life in Malaysia as being both physically and emotionally difficult. Explains that at that time, if he were in his home country, he would be finishing college; this caused him to be discouraged. Felt as if he had no future there since he was illegal and lived in constant fear of being caught. He still had faith and believed that God had a plan for him.
Faith- Says his faith has been strong and didn’t change when he went to Malaysia. His faith is getting stronger as he experiences more.
Section 3: (15:04-26:06)
Life in the US, Language- Describes coming to the U.S. from Malaysia, excited as he felt he didn’t have a future in Malaysia. Felt scared about his ability to speak English and about not knowing the country.
Resettlement, Family- Explains that he was resettled in Tampa, Florida, where his brother lived. When he first arrived, he couldn’t do anything because of paperwork and had to rely on his social worker and case manager to help him. Says he can’t imagine if his brother was there in Tampa, as it’s very hard when you don’t have anyone to help you. Shares that he started going to a Burmese church and was able to make friends there.
Education- Explains that after taking ESL classes and learning English, he wanted to finish school. This caused him to move to Dallas, where there is a larger Burmese community and more help for him to go to college.
Section 4: (26:07-34:32)
Faith, Prayer- Shares his faith journey and explains the role religion played in his childhood, as well as what he would pray about. Describes what Christianity means to him and his relationship with God.
Working- Shares that his is excited for his new job that he recently started.
Section 5: (34:33:-42:54)
COVID, Church- Due to COVID, he has not been able to go to church. Feels that some people’s faith has been affected as a result of the closures, as they are not meeting with people from church and their friends.
Working, Faith- Shares his experience with getting a new job and how he has been praying for it. He was going to move out of state for a different job, but was offered a different one that let him stay in Dallas.
Section 6: (42:55-47:05)
Language, Help- Says that he at least knew a little bit of English when he came to the U.S., which helped him with the transition. There are many refugee families that come to the U.S. and don’t speak any English. Shares the experience of a Thai family that did not know how to pay their electricity bill and didn’t have power as a result. Asks people to consider these difficulties for refugees.