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Burmese-Americans Celebrate 30 Years in Indiana

2023-11-19 – BE&O SuSt

The Burmese American Community Institute (BACI) recently celebrated 30 years of Burmese immigrants moving to Indiana and making a difference in the economy and Hoosier culture. 

Founded in 2011, the Indianapolis-based non-profit provides educational and vocational support to Burmese immigrants who call Central Indiana home. According to the organization, over 40,000 Burmese-Americans call Indiana home. 

First arriving in Indiana in 1993, Burmese immigrants found themselves fleeing political, religious, and cultural persecution from an oppressive military government. Elaisa Vahnie, Executive Director of BACI, says the organization was created to help these immigrants become self-sufficient members of society in Indiana.     

Entering the state with a myriad of challenges and without English speaking skills, Vahnie says the average Burmese immigrant is expected to become economically self-sufficient within three to six months—a difficult task for many. 

That is why BACI stepped in to implement innovative programs to assist the growing Burmese-American population in Indiana. From job placement programs to English classes and citizenship lessons, the organization is vital in helping these immigrants start their lives as Hoosiers on the right track. 

In 2011, when the BACI was founded, the graduation rate for the Burmese-American population was only 34%. By 2022, the rate skyrocketed to nearly 93%. “That result is testament of the collaboration and the partnership we have forged together,” Vahnie says.  

At a recent ceremony, BACI recognized and celebrated 100 citizens, business leaders, and partners who helped the Burmese-American population thrive in Indianapolis. Indiana Governor Eric Holmcolmb, in addition to naming July 2023 Burmese-American month in Indiana, joined the ceremony via video and said the ceremony and recognition was “A testament to your resilience, hard work, and the bonds forged here in Indiana.” 

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