In the fall of 2019, the Community Service Council’s Burmese Peer Educator Program organized and facilitated an afterschool class for Jenks East Elementary students to learn phrases in Zopau – a dialect spoken by Tulsa’s Zomi/Burmese families. Every Tuesday, students gather after school to learn phrases in Zopau such as “Kei ka min” which means “My name is,” or “Kei pen kum” which means “My age is”.
The class is taught by Community Service Council’s Sia Mah Nu, which are peer leaders and educators within the Burmese community that partner with Community Service Council staff to connect Burmese families to resources and services in the Tulsa community, and help them navigate U.S. systems, such as education and healthcare.
The afterschool class was developed by the suggestion of Jenks students themselves, who wanted to be able to speak with their Burmese friends. Community Service Council saw the opportunity to help Burmese children feel more connected to their peers in the Jenks school system, and were more than willing to coordinate this special opportunity for both Zomi- and English-speaking children to come together and honor the Zomi language and traditions.
There are currently 1,301 Zomi/Burmese students enrolled in Jenks Public Schools, which makes up 10% of the district’s total population.
Learn more about how CSC supports Tulsa’s Burmese refugee families through our Sia Mah Nu Burmese Community Peer Education Program >