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Alumni Spotlight: Pla Eh Moo

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Pla Eh Moo, Employment Manager at JBS is a 2022 graduate of the Ottumwa Leadership Academy. “I wanted to join the leadership academy to gain the leadership skills I need and utilize the experience and knowledge to grow my community and in my new manager role,” stated Pla.

We asked Pla to share her story below:

The Karen People of Burma struggled for freedom decades before my parents were born, and the struggle goes on today. I was born in Myanmar, but I grew up in Thailand. My family got separated because of the civil war. When I was four years old, someone adopted me and I went to live with her in a bigger city because our village is so small.

My adoptive mother took me with her to the city called Three Pagodas. She was a nun and she was in charge of everything in the building around the campus where we lived. I was pretty fortunate to meet a lady like her. She trained me well and didn’t allow me to do anything except focus on my school work. I lived with her for three years and came back to my village. She wanted me to stay with her forever but I needed more time with my family. Even though I had lived in good conditions, my siblings had been struggling. I couldn’t stand by and ignore them. I decided to live with them no matter what, and we moved to Thailand. We lived in a Thailand refugee camp for seven years and came to the United States in 2008.

Having faith to endure hardship with courage is what I have learned from my experiences and in the transition from living in a refugee camp to life in the United States. We first got resettled in Washington State.

Because of life circumstances, I am very adaptable as I have managed to not just survive but thrive in school no matter whether it is in Burma, Thailand, Washington state, Nebraska or Iowa. Each of these moves comes with different languages and expectations from society. I have had to learn new languages and adapt to new living situations in a drastic way.

I was able to adapt to different environments and maximize every opportunity I was given. My experience allows me to embrace the changes and use them as an opportunity to grow into a stronger person. Those experiences have taught me how to become a tough person and how to live in a world which is different from my birth country. Many people would consider these drastic moves as traumatic changes. However, I believe that these moves have built my character. My family’s difficulties motivated me to empower people and develop my community. I have confidence that I will achieve my goal in helping my community.