“My Community,” A Reflection by Alumna Meh Sod Paw

After graduating from college in 2020, taking a transitional year has helped me reflect on all dimensions of my life. Ruminating has helped me realize the importance of not forgetting to acknowledge my different feelings while maintaining hope for the future. In reflecting on the relational aspects of my life, I feel grateful to have found myself surrounded by a group of powerful women who I met after resettling in America. 

My journey started when my family left our bamboo hut in Mae La Refugee Camp in Thailand to experience life beyond the fence. After resettling in America, my family had to overcome the challenges of moving to a new country and, for us children, attending a public school. That tough phase of fighting for a better life was the time I was introduced to Global Village Project (GVP), a middle school for refugee girls like me. GVP showed me patience by providing me with an environment to perform an act that would have a huge impact in my life: I picked up my very first book, which was on the first-grade level, to read. GVP understood the value of having a mentor who would help me continue my reading journey and even write short summaries, which seemed like the hardest mission at the time. Not only was I able to read my first novel called Tales of Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume, but I experienced my voice being heard when I was given the choice to select this book as my favorite. 

Thus, I am truly grateful for having my life mentor, Ms. Mary Lou’s support in not only the academic aspect but other facets of life, like being encouraged to take care of my physical health. My journey with Ms. Mary Lou has helped me fully understand the importance of a community that inspires me to seek mentorship in things that are important to me, like my spirituality. Together with my spiritual mentor Joy, I have learned to strive to live a life that aligns with the values I have. With my writing mentor Ms. Lisa, who has traveled abroad and lived in foreign countries for many years, we discuss our experiences being surrounded by multiple cultures. Furthermore, my journey at GVP would not have been the same without my aspirational mentor Bertha. She has always been a great role model who I look to for inspiration. She carries confidence, resilience, and dedication, which encourages me to want to work on these qualities within myself. It is the generosity of these women in being part of my journey that helps me make it through many challenges in life.

Where I am today, I am glad that I have come to a point where I have support in many aspects of my life, so that I am well equipped to tell my own story.  I am so thankful to my kind-hearted mentors for their willingness and patience. Being able to tell my story, I am able to share and connect to the community I am living in. It is rare to find a place that will give us empathy, so I am filled with gratitude to have found people who are willing to walk with me as I build letters into words, words into phrases, phrases into sentences, and sentences into a story.