Burmese American Community Institute
Summer Program Prepares Burmese-American Students for College Success
Published on Friday, June 5, 2015 by


Summer program prepares Burmese-American students for college success

The students will present the findings of their research with policy action and solution recommendation to the community and stakeholders on Aug. 1.

INDIANAPOLIS – June 5, 2015

On Monday June 8, 2015, a group of high school students from the Burmese-American community in Indianapolis will begin eight weeks of research and leadership training as part of the Upward College Summer Program (UCSP) led by the Burmese American Community Institute (BACI). Held every summer since 2012, the program focuses on college access, academic language training, and social and leadership development for the high school students in the greater Indianapolis area. This year, 33 young scholars will participate in the program, which is partially funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. and the Kroger Co. as part of the Summer Youth Program Fund

Participants will work on group research projects and learn skills to conduct rigorous research, write academic papers, and deliver formal presentations. Some of the research topics will include: secondary migration, college attendance rates among the recent high school graduates in the community, college persistence rates, cultural integration, employment opportunities and climate change.

This year’s special grant in the amount of $20,000.00 from the Lilly Endowment makes it possible to provide the young scholars with improved access to the Internet and technology, including one laptop per each research group and staff members.

“We are very pleased and thankful to Lilly Endowment for this special project grant as our students will now have better access to the Internet and the opportunity to more effectively collaborate in groups and research through a learning environment with 21st century technology,” said Elaisa Vahnie, executive director of BACI.

In addition to the academic training, the summer program conducts an Early College Awareness Tour on the weekends in an effort to encourage college attendance among youth in the Burmese- American community. The program also conducts field trips to colleges and engages in volunteer and community service, as well as sports activities—all to enhance and enrich the young scholars’ extracurricular experiences.

For the past two years, the summer program has included an educational and leadership tour, first visiting Washington, D.C. in 2013 and New York in 2014. This year, the group of students and the organization’s staff members will travel to Chicago. These trips help the students become more culturally and socially integrated into their new society and support their college preparation and future career success.

In honor of World Refugee Day on June 20, the students will volunteer at Indy Urban Acres community garden as well as participate in a tree-planting project. World Refugee Day honors the men, women and children who have maintained courage, strength and determination after being forced to flee their homeland under threat of persecution, conflict and violence.

“This is really a great opportunity for partners in Central Indiana to come together and engage in service while celebrating diversity and other cultures,” said Lian Sang, the Institute’s program director. “Everyone is welcome to join us on this special day.”

The students will present the findings of their research projects to the community on Aug. 1 at the University of Indianapolis. Community members and stakeholders are invited to attend.

“We are very glad to be able to engage and implement this intensive research program for the fourth year,” said Lian Ceu, director of the Institute’s summer program.  “We are excited to have another impressive and committed group students this year, and already looking forward to the research presentation on Aug. 1.”

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At BACI, we maintain a high standard of accountability and transparency with the use of grants and gifts our donors entrust to us. We are always trying to keep our overhead rate low. In the past year, we used 95 percent of our total operating expenses towards programs that directly benefit students and community.

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