“Working in a team is amazing because you have to learn about each other…even though we have different backgrounds and we think differently, we have to be balanced and work to understand each other.”

In the run up to the ICE Academy 2018, we wanted to reflect on last year’s programme and to introduce you to some of our awesome alumni. Our third and final graduate is Thanthan, a budding computer programmer who loves meditation and cheesecake.

Tell us a bit about yourself…

My name is Thanthan, I’m from Burma, and I’ve been here for over 8 years.

So Thanthan, could you describe yourself in 3 words?

I’m kind, patient, and funny…In a good way!

And if you had a superpower, what would your superpower be?

I don’t know how to explain, but in Buddha’s time, there were people who had the power to go into the ground or the skies without any machines. So I would ideally like that kind of power! But you have got to practice to get that power, you need a lot of practice to get those things.

And if you could achieve anything in your life, what would you want to achieve?

I always think that I’d like to start my own business, either small or large. It’s always in my mind that I want to do that.

Great. So more simply, what’s your favourite food?

My favourite food is traditional Burmese food and I also love ice cream. I love it! My favourite flavour is strawberry cheesecake…but also chocolate brownie. I love cheesecake too, cheesecake is amazing. Now I like tea as well, you know! Before I didn’t drink tea in my country but I like English tea.

Another fun question – what’s your favourite song?

Sia – I’m Alive. It’s quite strong! [singing the chorus] She’s got very strong vocals, but i love it and the way she wears her hair black and white, it’s something different.

So when you first arrived in the UK, what was the strangest thing here for you?

Mainly the culture and the food are totally different from my country. So in the beginning, I couldn’t eat a sandwich, sorry! Because there was no flavour or no taste to it…but now I love it, it’s quick and easy to make a sandwich. Because with Burmese cooking you have to take your time, it takes at least an hour to make one dish, so you know, I love English food as well!

And you said in Burma you don’t really have ice cream as a treat for children. Can you explain what ice cream is to you?

In Burma ice cream is particularly for big events. It’s used as an offering, or you go to hotels and you get ice cream as a special dessert. How can I put it…it’s a luxury item for special occasions. People don’t go and buy it from the supermarket or local shop. So when I went back to my country I was wearing a Ben & Jerry’s t-shirt and then I explained to my niece and nephew that I work for this ice cream company, but they just listened, they weren’t really excited, you know. It’s not like in a European country, where every time they come into the shop the kids are like “oh Ben & Jerry’s is the best, cookie dough, cookie dough!” Here they get very excited and they run to the van and they want to grab their ice cream, but in my country they just listen. I’d like them to feel like European kids about ice cream.

So why did you join ICE Academy?

Actually a friend emailed me to say about the programme and then I applied for it and since I’ve been there, I’ve loved it. I’ve loved joining this.

So would you recommend for other people to join ICE academy?

I’d recommend people 100% to join ICE Academy, it’s amazing. I’ve worked in different environments. I used to be an administrator in a care agency and then I worked in a letting agency, and being involved in ICE Academy and working with Ben & Jerry’s was a totally different environment. The people are so friendly and so supportive. I’m not saying the other environments were not friendly, but this is a very different way of working.

What did you gain from the experience?

I was scared to talk to somebody else in English when I came here. I was shy, because they might not understand me. But being and working in Ben & Jerry’s, your daily basis is meeting with customers of different levels: from babies, to small kids, to adults. So you’ve got to deal with them differently and talk with them differently, which made me confident speaking in English.

Thanthan is currently learning how to programme with Code Your Future, which you can learn more about here. She is also a TERN Ambassador, and is looking to grow her business with our future programmes.

If you would like to follow in Thanthan’s footsteps and be part of our 2018 ICE Academy, you can apply here: bit.ly/iceapplication

Alternatively, if you would like to make a referral on someone’s behalf – head here: bit.ly/refertotern


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