Pursuing a Dream
September 24, 2018
It took 16 years for Eh Myee Paw to see snow for the first time, and it happened while trudging through it on the streets of Huron, South Dakota. She was cold, and her family was looking for a home to rent.
Eh Myee’s family is one of hundreds of Karen families who have made Huron their home over the past decade. The Paw family came to the United States through a federal resettlement program for refugees and heard from friends and family about available jobs at Huron’s turkey processing facility, Dakota Provisions.
They were eager to work—to find and be part of a community.
And despite looking different and speaking a different language, Eh Myee says the people of Huron accepted her and her family right away. They’ve made it home.
As they walked around the snow-covered streets multiple passing strangers stopped their cars and asked if the Paw family was alright or if they needed help on that cold winter day. “They didn’t know us, but they stopped to offer a ride. “How can we help you?,’ they would ask us.”
Eh Myee greeted the kindness with a smile.
Fast forward 10 years, and Eh Myee is a 26-year-old on a mission to return that kindness to the community that accepted her family despite their differences from most South Dakotans. “Now I want people to smile when they see me, because they know I am going to take care of them,” she said.
Eh Myee, her parents and her two siblings, immigrated from a refugee camp in Thailand after her parents fled from neighboring Myanmar. They landed in Louisville, Kentucky, knowing little to no English. After eight months, they arrived in Huron in 2008—a place they had no knowledge of, and had never visited—when a friend of Eh Myee’s mother told her about a job opportunity at Dakota Provisions.
But all that uncertainty didn’t stop Eh Myee, or her family for that matter.
With a lot of hard work, and through the kindness of strangers who would become neighbors, they set up a nice life for themselves in Huron. Eh Myee has since graduated from Huron High School, and has become more than proficient in English. She earned her certified nursing assistant license and is now working as a ESL-paraprofessional at Huron Middle School and as a CNA for Huron Regional Medical Center.
But she’s just getting started. On nights and weekends, Eh Myee is taking classes to become a nurse. “It’s kind of a dream thing,” she said of becoming a nurse. “If you want something you just have to keep dreaming. Every morning when you wake up it’s like opening a new page.”
A new page in a textbook, sure. But also, a new page in life.
Eh Myee said she wants to be a nurse to help. “That is my passion,” she says, “helping others.”
People like Eh Myee are vital to keeping Huron healthy, diverse and strong. Huron Regional Medical Center Foundation recognized that and developed a pre-nursing curriculum for English as a Second Language students. The program helps students like Eh Myee, who have a positive attitude and strong work ethic, but struggle overcoming some language barriers. It will also help the hospital as it cares for Karen community members who don’t speak English. Eh Myee will be by their side, translating for our hospital doctors, nurses and staff.
Eh Myee’s drive to assist starts with her family, and extends to her community. She knows Huron is a special place—it was rare for the community to be so welcoming to her family from the start. Today, neighbors still offer to help shovel the sidewalks for her and her family. “People in Huron are welcoming, even if they have never met you,” she said.
Some things have changed, though, since she first came to Huron. She once loved playing in the snow because she had never seen it growing up in Thailand.
Pp>But now, “it’s just so cold.”
Back to News Listing | Back to Blogs | Back to Girl Talk Blogs