Hsakushee Zan is a political science major and Racial Justice in Urban Schooling (RJUS) minor committed to creating a more equitable schooling system. As a refugee immigrant from Myanmar (formerly Burma), she has a deep understanding of the challenges immigrant children face. As a parent, she wants a more equitable education for her children and using her education to make that happen.
Why did you enroll in the RJUS minor?
I am interested in and educational equity and the educational side of public policy. This minor will help me to go on to graduate school in education policy and will also help me to advocate for my fellow immigrant families in public schools with knowledge I gained from my urban education class.
I went to school in refugee camp on border of Thailand and Myanmar due to the conflict in Myanmar. I moved to the U.S. in 2007. My kids were born in this country and are U.S. citizens, but still face inequities in our school system. I am especially interested in immigrants and immigrant education and am part of a parent advisory group in my community.
What issues do immigrant children face in the schools?
We talk a lot about equity and shortages in teachers of color. There is only one person from our community that speaks our native language that is licensed to teach. The Karen [an ethnic group living on the border of Myanmar and Thailand] community in the Twin Cities is about 12,000 people. This creates a problem when a parent is new and doesn’t know the language.
What has been the most valuable experience in the minor so far?
I love working with every student from diverse backgrounds, especially my service learning experience with the Early Childhood Family Education Program. My assignments included parent involvements in schools. I worked in family literacy with immigrants from all over the world.
What do you hope to do as a career?
My first goal is to advocate for the quality and the equity of public education for every child. As a refugee immigrant, I always hope to stand for the children of minority and immigrant backgrounds and be the voice for the voiceless as all children have the right to education.