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Refugee Returns to Homeland and Faces His Past

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Chapter Doh with his family in Burma

Upon first meeting Chapter Doh, three things are apparent: he has smile lines that frame his chocolate brown eyes, he is quick to laugh and he is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. He seems like your typical college kid, unless you dig a bit deeper and realize that maybe his constant laughing is masking something that is not immediately apparent: he is a refugee from Burma 

The seriousness of his life experiences make keeping up with his computer science classes seem mundane and folly by comparison.

Doh was eventually relocated to Salt Lake City when he was just 19 years old, only to move to Logan a few months later. In the meantime, he was baptized as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, served an LDS mission, took English classes, received his GED and enrolled at Utah State University as a computer science major — he is now a junior.

“Why not Utah State?” he said, laughing. He always laughs.

Doh returned to Burma this Christmas break after being away from his parents and homeland for 15 years. He said it was bittersweet to return to Burma.

“I met my family and they were so happy, but at the same time they were so sad,” he said. “It has been too long for them.”

Since Doh was reallocated to the United States, the violent civil unrest died out and Burma is experiencing the beginnings of rebirth and peace, though the country still has prevalent scars.

“Everything changed,” he said.

Doh visited those painful places, including the arduous mountain he had to cross to flee to Thailand, his now burned-down childhood home, the tree where his father –who was a Karen soldier– was tied up over night while enemy troops deliberated whether or not to kill him. And where Doh ran away from being shot at by soldiers who were camping out in trees. Somehow these experiences have not hardened Doh; instead they empower him.

But the country is not all stained with haunting memories. Doh also visited a grove of fruit trees he planted as a kid that now tower over his head and provide fruit. Doh is like those trees. He is now full-grown and he is helping rebuild Burma by planting seeds of education in the poverty-ridden country. Doh donated $600 to a local elementary school there called Tseker.

“The school children followed me everywhere,” he said. “I even taught them English for two days at the school.”

Doh said upon returning to Logan, he has learned how to be more humble from the Burmese people.

“People are happy, even though they don’t have a lot of stuff like we have in America,” he said.

Doh returned to America and is now back to Logan, though he said if he could return to Burma right now, he would.