UB’s Food Lab Gives Burmese High Schooler Chance to Connect with Her Community

My name is Thaint and I am a junior at Hutchinson-Technical Central High School. I work at the Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP). MAP is a nonprofit organization that employs youth to tend their urban farm and do community work, like canvassing around the community. I’ve been working at MAP for 3 years now.

I speak two languages other than English: Burmese and Karen. Burmese is the national language of Myanmar, but Karen is an ethnic group in Myanmar. Because of my language skills, I was connected by MAP to the Food Lab at the University of Buffalo. The Food Lab is a research group that is led by Dr. Samina Raja to help communities bloom into healthy, equitable, and sustainable communities.The Food Lab is working on project about the Burmese community.

They wanted a youth, specifically of Burmese background, to help with it. The Food Lab wants to figure out what foods Burmese people ate, what they eat now that they live in the United States, and how their eating habits have changed.

While working at the Food Lab I got to interview Burmese community members, transcribe interviews, and attend meetings. I also do other things while working at the Food Lab, such as help with the new website and attend global health equity talks.

If I didn’t work at MAP I would have never heard about this opportunity at the Food Lab. I am thankful for both organizations; being a part of MAP and the Food Lab has helped me become more open minded to my very own community. I also get connected to other people that will help me with my future. As for now, I plan on working with both these organizations for the rest of my high school years.

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