Becoming an American girl (video)

Refugees from Myanmar tell the story of how they survived genocide and a concentration camp before moving to Port Lavaca and rebuilding their lives.
  • Special report

  • The Victoria Advocate is telling the Karens' stories in a three-part special report. Today's installment starts with this story.

    The series.

    Aug. 26: Port Lavaca offers jobs, hope

    Today:The Karen change Calhoun schools

    Sept. 9: Immigrants chase the ...

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  • Special report

    The Victoria Advocate is telling the Karens' stories in a three-part special report. Today's installment starts with this story.

    The series.

    Aug. 26: Port Lavaca offers jobs, hope

    Today:The Karen change Calhoun schools

    Sept. 9: Immigrants chase the American dream

Hser Dah had never even heard of prom as a child in war-torn Myanmar.

After surviving a refugee camp, she and her family made their way to Port Lavaca, where they started their journey of adapting to American life.

For five years, Hser, 17, struggled to learn English and succeed in school. That made going to prom at the end of her junior year a big step.

With the help of a Calhoun High School teacher, Hser and her friends shopped for dresses and shoes. They talked excitedly and giggled, as they tried on formal dresses unlike anything they had ever worn before.

Hser picked out a pink dress, explaining she liked the color. Later she tried on black heels and swung her hips as she walked a few steps - "like a model," she laughed.

She laughed even more when she put on brown work boots and stomped over to her teacher to say, "How about this one?"

Hser smiled sheepishly as she said she didn't plan to dance because she didn't know how. Nonetheless, she said, she "wants to go have fun with my friends."

As she checked out at Blanca Fashion Boutique, she looked at the pink dress again and said, "Mine's perfect."


Related story:

The Karen change Calhoun schools, click HERE

Immigrants find Port Lavaca a haven from hell on Earth, click HERE

Plastics plant welcomes Burmese immigrants to Port Lavaca, click HERE.