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Soldiers showed up at Sam Shan's family farm in Burma one day when he was 14 and told him, along with several other male farmers in his village, that they'd be leaving their families and performing hard labor for the next few weeks, SF Gate reports. But they'd seen others head off to such gigs and never return. So Shan and some of the other boys snuck away that night and escaped to Thailand and then Malaysia. The United Nations eventually sent Shan to the Utah where he began to live his dream of studying fashion design.
The guts it took to show up as the only male in fashion school at a conservative Salt Lake City community college may have rivaled that of fleeing a military junta. But he'd found his calling—his grandmother also made clothes and he loved playing with her sewing machine. A successful match through an online dating service brought Shan to San Francisco, and he's now happily studying fashion design at SF City College among plenty of other guys. Next step: becoming an American citizen so he can feel safe to visit his family back in Burma (aka Myanmar). Until then, they keep in touch through Skype.
· Sam Shan: Burmese refugee fashions his future as designer [SF Gate]
· 10 Academy of Art Students Present at New York Fashion Week [Racked SF]
· SF: The Only Place to Get a Degree in Styling [Racked SF]