By Vancouver Sun |

Eh Hser Moo, a midfielder with Langley Secondary School, arrived in the Lower Mainland as an eight-year-old with his family from a Karen refugee camp. He packed studies into summers and took extra classes so he could graduate a year early and accept soccer scholarship to Trinity Western University.

Eh Hser Moo’s first experience in Langley was making a snowman when he was eight years old and fresh out of a Karen refugee camp in the hills of northwest Thailand.

His latest experience is finishing high school a year early while scooping up the outstanding athlete of the year award at Langley Secondary School, and heading to Trinity Western University (TWU) on a scholarship to play soccer for the Spartans.

“I do (enjoy school),” Moo said, “not just the friends you have here, but I also have good teachers. As long as you pay attention during class, show up on time, the teachers make it easy.”

It also took taking a lot of summer classes and stacking his course loads.

“It was hard, but I took it step-by-step,” Moo said.

A three-sport athlete with the LSS Saints — rugby and track are the other two — Moo was also presented with an academic entrance scholarship from TWU and a B.C. Ministry of Education District/Authority Award scholarship.

He’ll study business at TWU.

Moo’s parents were born in Myanmar and fled to Thailand where they lived — and bore their seven children — in a refugee camp. The Karen are a people of about seven million who live in hill tribes in the mountainous areas of eastern Myanmar near the Thai border. Thailand hosts refugee camps for those escaping persecution, but the 140,000 refugees are confined to camp by police and the military.

Once in Langley, Moo’s dad got a job pretty quickly at a lumberyard, and his mom with a cake decorator.

Moo began playing soccer when he started school in Langley, on an all-Karen team of kid refugees studying English as a second language, and he credits early coaches such as Herv Bezjak, Rob Richardson and others for giving him support and confidence, for being role models.

And Moo himself has become a role model, especially at the all-Karen church he and his family attend.

The memory of a friend back in the refugee camp who had only a biscuit to eat at lunch has stayed fresh in his memory.

He’s grateful, he often wonders what life would have been like had his family remained in the camp and its lack of running water and sanitation. He feels very fortunate.

“Eh Hser is an amazing kid who has worked so incredibly hard,” said Kendall Sewell, a Langley Secondary teacher of English, history and the AVID program — advancement via individual determination — which is aimed at preparing students for college eligibility.

“It’s been amazing to see him over these last three years continue to strive for his goals and work so hard; it takes a lot of effort not just to graduate early, but to face the adversity he’s faced and always with such a positive attitude.

“Not only on the field but in the classroom as well, he’s so well-respected by his peers and his teachers.”

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