“I have learned something far more complicated than anything in a text book–surviving as a refugee.“
ISOS: Ryan, have you had any opportunities to go to school?
I was 17 when I came to Thailand, I did not finish high school and the refugee center only provides very basic education to the refugee kids. As I have to support my family financially, my education ended. But over time, I have learned something far more complicated than anything in a text book–surviving as a refugee.
ISOS: What are you risking by living here?
Having the official UNHCR refugee status doesn’t mean it is legitimate for me to stay in Thailand. In fact, I could be arrested by the police at any moment and be sent to the detention center. Fortunately, I have never come across any police or been asked to show my legal certificate in my past three years in Bangkok. This may be because my Chinese features are not very different from Thai features.
“…I could be arrested by the police at any moment…“
ISOS: Are you able to find housing here?
For two years, my parents and I stayed in a tiny 12 square meter studio. Three months ago, my friend found a small apartment owned by his friend and rented it to us for a very low price. The condition is much better than the studio we used to live in. The only problem is in order to go to the Refugee Center I need to travel for 2 hours.
ISOS: Are there any other aspects of living here that makes life difficult for refugees?
With no legal status, everything becomes a lot more difficult. Also, there are many different emotional challenges living as a refugee, to me the biggest challenge is the sense of loneliness and the desperation of getting my life back on track. But there is not always much I can do since my life is no longer in my control.
“A refugee will never have a real life in this country, the only hope for them is to rebuild their lives elsewhere.“
Resettlement is usually not something any individual is able to help with. Getting an education is my next biggest need, if I am to truly feel I have some sort of say in what’s to become of me and my family.
ISOS: What are your best and worst experiences in Thailand?
My best experience in Thailand has been working at the refugee center with refugees and volunteers from all over the world.
Waiting for two years for my refugee status to be granted was definitely my worst experience in not only Thailand, but my entire life. It is terrible even to think about.
ISOS: What do you want to do in the future?
I am looking forward to working in human rights or doing something to help refugees, but first of all, I have to find a country that will accept me.
ISOS: Is your experience similar to other asylum seekers and refugees?
They all pretty much go through the same suffering as I did, and I believe they’re all hoping to be resettled more than anything else they’ve ever hoped.
“…I believe they’re all hoping to be resettled more than anything else they’ve ever hoped.“
ISOS: Thank you Ryan both for your time and your encouraging bravery.
Ryan has an amazing story to tell. His experience encompasses both the resilience and hope ISOS loves to highlight. Leave an encouraging note and come show your support for the BRC during the art exhibition!
The artwork used above will be featured in a special ISOS exhibition. See Picture From My Mind for details.