Thi Thi Ma came to the United States from Vietnam with her parents, paternal grandmother and five siblings in 1987. She was 13 years old at the time and was
She and her siblings were home-schooled in Vietnam, learning only the bare minimum—some language arts, Chinese and mathematics. However, what she received was far better than the education many other children growing up in Vietnam at that time had received. But once they arrived in the United States, school became more daunting.
“My public school experience was pretty traumatic because I didn't have a lot of English...I remember learning the alphabet and a few phrases in English. I was put in a bilingual program in middle school and then after one semester I got promoted to high school - without me [even] knowing!”
It took Thi Thi "at least a decade" to adjust to her new life in San Francisco, but today Thi Thi is a community college instructor teaching ESL and linguistics. She's also involved with Best in Class Education Center which provides education and enrichment programs to help students from a variety of backgrounds, many of whom are immigrants. Thi Thi and her sisters run a Best in Class franchise in Los Angeles, a perfect combination of owning a business and pursuing her passion for education.
"There are many issues [with education], but when I'm in the classroom, it's always wonderful. I'm inspired by my students; I learn from them. And I think that's the beauty and positive side of education."
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