Paw Wah is a Karen refugee who grew up in a Thailand refugee camp and later migrated to the USA with her family; She attained a bachelor’s degree in global health and minor in biology from UCSD in 2021 and currently serves as a tutor assistant at the Karen Organization of San Diego. In this oral history, Paw talks about her childhood, which provides a meaningful and unique lens for uncovering life in refugee camps. She shares stories of first coming into the United States and her struggles with a new language and integrating into the new environment. Currently, she is working with the Karen Organization of San Diego to help Karen children with their homework and discover their interests in STEM and arts.
This interview covers topics such as first generation, refugee camps, immigration, language barrier, and history of Burma, and higher education.*
I met Paw through the Karen Organization of San Diego. The interview was conducted via Zoom to serve the best interests of both interviewer and interviewee during the COVID pandemic. The interview was conducted by Yumo Zhu, a first-year history major at UCSD who is interested in Asian history, international relations, and ethnic studies.
* Disclaimer: oral history contains some references to explicit third-party experiences.