Shwe has a tiny frame and speaks softly in broken English except for one moment of energy and perfect enunciation: “My government and I... we fight!” she exclaims while making boxing motions with her small fists. Shwe and her family are refugees from Burma who were relocated to Utica, New York.
Interestingly, while many refugees have trouble finding a job in their profession, Shwe is doing exactly what she has been doing since she was sixteen years old. While living in Thailand, she worked as a seamstress sewing baby clothes and women’s dresses. She makes her own clothes and also clothing for her two (soon to be three!) children. When she came to HTC, she fit in perfectly on the manufacturing floor. She works swiftly and accurately on the large machines stitching large medical covers and chemical helmet covers and is cross trained in head harnesses.
She has been on the job for less than a year and her supervisors are already in awe of her capabilities - sewing and otherwise. She is learning English at the Refugee Center in Utica and is becoming more and more comfortable with her new country.
When asked about the people who work at HTC, she clearly knows what she wants to say, but the English words aren’t
coming to her right away. She looks up and says, “Everyone like friend... like... sister!” Meaning in whatever language
you put it, the people who work at HTC are like family.