Student Spotlight: Thang Khan Sian Khai
Thang Khan Sian Khai, known to his friends as Sian Khai, 19, grew up in Myanmar and came to the United States two years ago to attend Colorado Mountain College’s Isaacson School for New Media. His passion for documentary has only grown and he has even found an attachment to Colorado.
As he nears the completion of the degree, he agreed to a short interview about his experiences.
Post Independent: Tell me a little about Myanmar.
Sian Khai: The country was under a military government from 1988 to 2011. After that, they decided they wanted a democratic system, but it’s still in the process. There have been a lot of improvements.
PI: How did you get interested in New Media?
SK: In Myanmar I can’t choose my career. It’s chosen for me. So I applied and was chosen for the Study of the U.S. Institutes program through the U.S. embassy and went to the University of Montana for a month. That is when I started knowing about all the digital media I could learn about in other countries. I heard about the program at CMC through Colorado State University when they did a fair in Myanmar, so I decided to apply.
PI: How has that experience been?
SK: The first semester was quite challenging. I didn’t know a lot of people, and there’s no one who speaks my language. Also, the culture, the food, and the weather is a lot different. After that, I became part of the group and didn’t feel like an outsider anymore. Everybody knows everybody and they care about each other and where they’re going. That’s really different from a big city like Yangon.
PI: What projects have you done?
SK: Through school, I’ve been working on the “Colorado Experience” program on Rocky Mountain PBS. We do short commercial clips on local history. Also, we’re doing a documentary on George Stranahan. I’m doing the editing, and I’m the camera operator on that.
On my own, I like to do documentary. Each semester I choose a student and highlight their life and work.
PI: Do you see documentary as art?
SK: It is. Recently I did a project where I pour paint on people’s bodies and faces which represents the environment that is forcing them to be somebody that they don’t want to be. In the post production process, I take away the color so it ends up being the original skin. It transforms the final piece and gives the message that being yourself is the best way.
PI: What are your plans post CMC?
SK: After I graduate I’m thinking about getting a bachelor’s and master’s. After that, I might return to Myanmar and work to help those who can’t otherwise tell their story.
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