Khin Thiri Nandar Soe receives her award at the 2012 SHREI Symposium from Richard Roberts, The Frances and Charles Field Professor in History and Director of the SHREI Initiative for 2012.
The SHREI Outstanding Student Award aims to recognize, reward, and advance the exceptional work of community college students and/or community college student organizations dedicated to raising awareness of Human Rights in an international context. The judges were extremely impressed by Khin’s commitment to educating others about human rights violations in her homeland of Burma, her leadership on campus, and the inspiration she brings to us all. Following is her description of her work. Our congratulations go out to Khin for her extraordinary efforts to help the people of Burma.
My name is Khin Thiri Nandar Soe. I left my country, Burma, when I was 19 because of my involvement in student activism and resistance to the military dictatorship. My family and friends experienced violations of their basic human rights according to UN Declaration articles 2, 3, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 25 and 27. Because of this and my family and friends’ experiences, I decided to apply for this scholarship to raise awareness about how we can create a culture that includes human rights as a priority.
My project included the following activities designed to educate and raise awareness of basic human rights, particularly in Burma. My project demonstrates “freedom from fear” by practicing human rights on campus and in the larger community by the following activities.
(1) An oral history project interviewing women from Burma who have experienced human rights violations.
By honoring and respecting the stories of women from Burma, City College of San Francisco students, faculty, staff, and community members were able to read not published in the mainstream media and texts. I published one of the oral histories in the CCSF student publication This is Sound. This publication has since become a required text for classes in Women Studies so that students could learn about human rights struggles in Burma, the world in 2012, and in the future. The National Women’s Studies Association has now accepted a presentation of my oral history project for November, 2012, which will reach Women’s Studies faculty and students throughout the nation and internationally.
(2) Taking an active role in student government on campus, in clubs, organizations, events, and classes
As a student government senator, president of the Burmese Student Club, and founder and President of the Human Rights Human Light Club I have introduced discussions, feature films, and presented speakers, exhibit photo journals, and other activities that raise awareness of the struggle for basic human rights in Burma.
(3) Creating partnerships with community based organizations to support local and international Burmese communities
I helped found Project Help Burma, the Burmese Youth Association, Save Irrawaddy (SF Bay Area Branch), and Burma Politics DeCal, the DeCal Class at UC Berkeley. I also helped create partnerships with the Democratic Voice of Burma, Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), Amnesty International, Soros Foundation, U.S. Campaign for Burma and documentary filmmakers featuring Burma’s struggle for human rights.
In the spring of 2012, the Dean of Student Affairs, Veronica Hunnicutt presented the Burmese Student Club with the CCSF “Outstanding Student Activities Club” award for its courage and willingness to engage in difficult dialogue and activities surrounding the protection of basic human rights for the Burmese students and, by example, all students.