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ICC Note: Student in Bethel’s Ed.D. Hsajune Dyan, who came to Minnesota as a seventeen year old refugee, seeks to advance education for Karen people and other minorities. Mr. Dyan was brought up as a Baptist in Burma where his parents were persecuted for years. When Dyan was a toddler, his family fled to Thailand where they found safety in a refugee camp. Today, Dyan uses the technical skills and cultural insights gleaned from his childhood to serve others at the St. Paul Public School where Karen is the third most popular non-English language spoken.

10/14/2017, Burma (Bethel University News) – When Hsajune Dyan GS’19 came to Minnesota with his family as a 17-year-old refugee, he spoke very little English and knew almost nothing about the state he now calls home. “The states we knew were California, New York, and Texas,” he says with a laugh.

Since then, Dyan has found the Twin Cities to be a surprisingly accessible home for refugees—especially those belonging to the Karen ethnic group, like himself. But one glaring problem remains. “Oftentimes parents don’t really know how to navigate the school system or advocate for themselves,” Dyan says. “I want to be the face and the voice for this underserved population.” With a successful career in education, doctoral training at Bethel University underway, and his selection as a 2017 Bush Fellow, Dyan is making that dream a reality.

Dyan was born in Burma—where the Karen people have been persecuted for many years and endured deep military and political conflict. When Dyan was a toddler, his family fled to Thailand and found safety in refugee camps. Now fluent in Burmese, Karen, Thai, and English, Dyan uses the technical skills and cultural insights gleaned from his childhood to serve others as St. Paul Public Schools’ Karen Cultural Specialist.

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