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Three Generations of Faith

Tahira Carroll shares how her grandmother’s choice to immigrate shaped generations.

Pioneers create new paths for others to follow. Today, pioneers may not push handcarts or walk thousands of miles, but the way they overcome their challenges provides us with a chance to reflect on our own journeys.

Tahira Carroll with her mother, daughter, son, and husband at Education Week.
Tahira with her mother, daughter, son, and husband at Education Week.
Photo by Tahira Carroll

At the 2022 Education Week, Adjunct Faculty Tahira Carroll (Eye Tracking and Music Translation) presented on her family’s journey to the gospel, inviting her audience to insert themselves into her story and learn about the human experience in the process.

At the beginning of her lecture, “The Journey to the Gospel from Myanmar to India to Utah,” Tahira asked attendees to define humanities. Answers ranged from “the things that make us human” to “human culture” to “stories about humanity.” Tahira agreed that her lecture was about the story of humans.

“Every immigrant or person and pioneer, anybody that came to the US, has a story. Some of it is based in heartbreak. Some of it is based in trauma. But there is a reason we all came here. Whether it was to find the gospel, whether it was to make a better life for us, there’s a reason we all are here right now.” Tahira then shared her family’s story—a journey to the gospel that spanned three generations.

Ma Sein Yin

Tahira’s story started in 1960s Burma (now called Myanmar) with her grandmother, Ma Sein Yin. During that time, many Burmese people fought against the socialist party that had taken over the state. Interestingly, Tahira said, “Burmese does not have a word for no,” which makes the Burmese people’s resistance even more significant.

Tahira’s grandmother opposed the new regime and was a strong supporter of the democratic prime minister. She also owned a general store that she had worked her entire life to open so she could support her family. Amid this political upheaval, the military junta came to the general store and told Tahira’s grandmother she would have to turn her store over to the government. She refused. As a result, it became unsafe for the family to stay in Burma. Tahira’s grandparents left behind their money, possessions, and home to travel to Kerala, India, where Tahira’s grandfather was from.

San San Nu

After arriving in India, Tahira’s grandmother and grandfather both passed away, so Tahira’s mother, San San, and her siblings were sent to a Catholic orphanage. However, San San “didn’t see a future” for her and her siblings once they were old enough to leave the orphanage, so she ran away to find work to support her family. San San eventually ended up in New Delhi at a college for women, where she earned a secretarial course degree and started working for the owner of the college, Ashima Chaudhuri. A few years later Tahira was born.

When Tahira was five, San San was working full time again and had to send her daughter to a boarding school ten hours away in Mussoorie, India. This decision “was really hard for her, but it was something she had to do because she had to work,” Tahira said. Two years later, San San was hired as a receptionist at the school, which allowed her to be with her daughter again.

While San San and Tahira were at the boarding school, they received a call from Mrs. Chaudhuri, San San’s employer from the college. Mrs. Chaudhuri invited San San and Tahira to return to Delhi to meet her younger brother.

Tahira Carroll, San San, and Ashima Chaudhuri at the wedding of Mrs. Chaudhuri’s brother and San San’s sister.
Tahira, San San, and Ashima Chaudhuri at the wedding of Mrs. Chaudhuri’s brother and San San’s sister.
Photo by Tahira Carroll

Mrs. Chaudhuri’s brother, the black sheep of the family, had moved to Toronto a few years before because he was estranged from his family. He had been raised in a staunch Muslim family but converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he was an adult. Now, seeking to make amends with his family, he had returned to India to visit. Foreseeing a potentially awkward situation, Mrs. Chaudhuri invited San San, Tahira, and San San’s sister to dinner with her brother to try to diffuse any tension.

The visit went better than anyone had hoped, and it provided the catalyst for Tahira’s family to join the Church. Mrs. Chaudhuri’s brother and San San’s sister became friends and even decided to get married. After several months, San San’s sister was baptized. Tahira joined when she was 11, and San San joined a few years after that.

Tahira Carroll

Tahira Carroll with her mother, San San, daughter, son, and husband
Tahira with her mother, daughter, son, and husband.
Photo by Tahira Carroll

When she was a young adult, Tahira moved to the United States to attend BYU. After earning her bachelor’s degree, she was invited to return to BYU to teach first-year Hindi. That single class has since grown into an entire program. Tahira also earned her master’s in linguistics and has been teaching at BYU for 16 years.

Though Tahira and her family had already joined the Church, she still felt like her journey to the gospel was missing something. She started praying to know whether she and her family needed to move back to India so she could share the gospel there. Then Tahira received a call from Church headquarters asking if she could help with the translation of the Book of Mormon into Hindi.

For the past 10 years Tahira has been assisting in the Hindi translation of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. Tahira was also recently asked to supervise the hymnbook translation teams for Nepali, Amharic, Sinhala, and Burmese. She feels that her family’s journey to the gospel has come full circle since she is now helping bring the gospel to many other families.

We can find parallels in our lives as we consider what Tahira’s family can teach us about the story of humans. Ma Sein Yin’s courage, San San’s perseverance, and Tahira’s faith effected a significant and positive change not only in their family but also in the lives of many other individuals.