Michou Tchana-Hyman – Senior Program Manager


Michou was born in New York City to an American mother and Cameroonian Father. He grew up in Vermont, and developed a love for people, travel and experiential education at an early age. For seven years he attended an alternative elementary school ran by his grandmother, where the emphasis was placed on play and human interaction rather than grades and homework. Students only had a few hours of daily structured class time, spending most of their time on fun projects, playing outdoors, exploring nature and developing strong social skills. This initial educational experience was a major influence on the way Michou thinks about and approaches education.

At the age of 11, Michou decided to take a chance and ran away to join the circus. For three summers he participated in Circus Smirkus, a traveling youth circus that tours around the Northeastern United States. During this time he performed two shows a day, five days a week for crowds as large as 700 people. It was through his time at the circus that he learned that anything can be done if you are willing to put the time and energy into practicing and making it happen.

Michou’s sense of adventure and pushing the boundaries of traditional education led him to pursue academic interests abroad. In high school Michou studied abroad in Costa Rica, and over the course of his college career completed an internship in Spain, two in Thailand, and conducted a major creative research project on story telling traditions in Cameroon. He also moved from the East Coast of the United States to the West Coast to attend the Evergreen State College, a school that celebrates the unique ways people learn, through creative, multidisciplinary curriculum. At Evergreen and through his internships in Thailand and other creative projects, Michou developed his passion for cultural studies and human rights.

During his last semester of college, Michou completed an internship in Chiang Mai, Thailand, at a small, education-focused, community-based organization called Bridging Education-gaps Among Migrants (BEAM). At BEAM, Michou worked on projects to advance the Myanmar migrant education system in Thailand, and was offered a teaching position upon completion of his internship and college career. Michou was profoundly influenced and inspired by working with the Myanmar community in Thailand and learned invaluable life lessons by being a witness to the passion and drive they brought to their seemingly endless uphill battle.

Moving forward, Michou’s goal is to pull from all of his life’s experiences and use them to work with young people around the world, inspiring and empowering them, in fun and creative ways, to get involved with important social global issues, and, in doing so, to promote positive change. He believes that play is imperative to learning and understanding the world and people around you, and aims to embody that philosophy in everything he does.

 

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