Burmese Goodbye

Without a word, the Pau family stepped foot through the doors of the school with nothing but a backpack and each other.

For the past two years they have watched and listened to the language of their dedicated tutors, learning a new culture under the florescent lights of the library. After embracing a new world, the largest family of the MacTEACH program will continue on their journey of change as they leave MacArthur to start a new life in Oklahoma.

Von Pau,11, sits with her tutor Sofy Corona,12, as they go over an essay written by Von.
Von Pau,11, sits in the library with her tutor Sofy Corona,12, as they go over an essay written by Von. Photo by Kailey Rubalcaba

“I don’t want to leave,” Von Pau, 11, said. “All my friends are here and it’s still so new. Two years ago, I couldn’t even speak English and now I’m leaving again to something even more new.”

A large part of their lives in San Antonio has been the help of the MacTEACH tutors, who have assisted all five siblings into the transition of American education. Khai, the eldest Pau brother, remembers being terrified of not knowing English, and the first foreign people he trusted were the tutors waiting with open arms.

“I was so scared of going to school at first,” Khai, 12, said. “But the people and all my tutors made it fun and now I am sad to leave and not graduate with my friends.”

The senior tutors are a huge influence in the Burmese student’s lives and give them a chance at lasting relationships, but Mr. Steven Davidson, overseeing all MacTEACH, has gotten the true opportunity of watching these students grow and learn.

“It’s hard, for me at least, to watch something that has made so much progress just go away and you can no longer take care of them,” Mr. Davidson said. “Yes, we will lose a family but it’s good for the tutors to learn, because that’s a part of education.”

For only two years of speaking the intricate English language, the Pau family, alongside all the Burmese students, have accepted their new culture of education. Now, after investing their life, nights, and lunch periods ,the expansion of their daily eagerness for learning has grown into love for knowledge.

“In Burma, school was no fun and all we did was memorize our work,” Von Pau said. “But here, everyone is so nice and I can learn whatever I want and ask for all the help I need . I love school because I have learned to write essays and speak really well because of my tutors.”

The nearing absence of the Pau family will not only leave them in great sadness, but it will effect the tutors that have helped them learn. The student tutors have invested just as much time in the advancement of the Burmese student’s education and will never forget the changes they made in both their lives.

“These tutors will always keep the Burmese students in their heart,” Mr. Davidson said. “They will be better tutors and better people for that experience.”

The inter mixing of diversity and cultures proves to be an enlightening experience for all members associated with the MacATEACH program. The lessons that are learned every Tuesday and Thursday nights sitting in the square tables of the library cannot be taught by any tutor or teacher, and departure is just another part of the equation.

“You’re proud, but you’re sad because they are moving on and there is that one moment in time where you can’t do anything about that,”Davidson said. “You want to keep these students with you forever because of not so much of what you’ve given them, but what they have given you and you can’t have those moments back.”



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