Meanwhile in Myanmar

After years of repression, the new openness in Myanmar is fragile, but full of hope and optimism. For issue 13 Dutch journalist and Myanmar expert Minka Nijhuis spoke with three women who, inspired by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, have given their lives new directions.

The Myanmar (formerly Burma) that I came to know well as a journalist was ruled by a military junta. Western relations and influences were minimal. But since a new government has made room for a bit more freedom, Myanmar is a different place entirely. Tourists are flocking to it as one of the last undiscovered exotic destinations in Asia. Young, ambitious Burmese people who, for years wanted nothing more than to leave, now see opportunities to make their dreams come true at home.

College principal Khin Hnin Soe, who founded Myanmar Metropolitan College in Yangon, wants to bring a new kind of energy to Myanmar’s formerly rigid educational system.
“I was trained as an engineer, but when I got involved with training interns at my work, I discovered that, in fact, teaching is my real passion. It revived an old dream of mine. I had lived in Singapore since I was a teenager, and life was good there, but I still felt an intense connection to my home country, Myanmar. I hoped that I could do something useful there one day. A few years ago, when the system here opened up a little, the time seemed ripe for me to open a school.”

In issue 13 you can read the stories of three women who have given their lives in Myanmar new directions.

Text Minka Nijhuis