An ethnic Karen, August Baw was twelve years old when she fled Burma by foot in 1997, carrying nothing but a shoulder-bag full of clothes. Burmese military troops had come to her village, burning down all of the houses there; she knew she could never return. A political refugee since then, the event of that day in 1997 changed her life forever.
August and her family first found refuge from the civil war between government militias and various ethnic groups at the Tham-Hin Refugee Camp which was located on the Thai-Burma border. She considers herself fortunate that the camp had a school where she was able to finish High School, studying Thai, Burmese, Karen, History, Math, and English.
In 2002, August and her family resettled in the US, first living in Utica, New York, where she attended community college, studying Accounting and ESL. However, as the oldest child, and with both parents in poor health, August went to work to support her family and she began interpreting at the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees (in Utica, New York). Thereafter, she moved to Texas where she met her future husband and attended Bible College. She then followed her husband to be to Kansas City, Kansas where they later got married and started a family.
August is our Karen language parent liaison. Her work is motivated by her desire to advocate for her community. She sees herself as a bridge of communication between KCPS schools and the Karen and Burmese families in the district, and she also sees herself as someone who helps relieve the stress that sometimes occur when families are newly resettled into the city. “Teachers and other staff should endeavor to understand the culture and background of their students” she says. According to her, the refugee camps where many of the students and their family come from are vastly different from the US. She believes that all teachers must be trained to be culturally sensitive and respectful of the diversity in their classrooms.
August and her husband both have their family here in the US. She has two children: Nathan and Grace. And the one thing that she wishes her colleagues to know about her is something that is already clear to most who work with her: she is always friendly, hardworking, and humble.