I do not actually remember how I got around to conducting block teaching twice in Yangon, Myanmar, for the past two years to two batches of MBA candidates between 2016 (January) and 2017 (February). Myanmar has reportedly developed quite a lot, and I was fortunate enough to meet very bright Myanmar students and call them friends.
My experience in web strategies, precisely digital marketing, ain’t that extensive, but perhaps my name was recommended to the university and its foreign parter university in Switzerland thanks to the impact of this blog and my work in the #SoutheastAsian region. Especially after setting up #REDHILLCambodia, I have some more things to share with my future students in Myanmar.
Besides teaching, I also had time to explore Myanmar the third time this year. And, this time I made more effort to discover some historical bits about Yangon city and got myself hosted by a Myanmar friend, Htaike Htaike Aung, one of the co-founders of Myanmar ICT for Development Orgamization (MIDO). She also introduced me to yoga at her office in downtown Yangon. (Thanks, Ma Htaike).
Just a fun scenario which I came across within my previous three visits to Yangon: it was/is indeed easy for the locals to mistake me for another Burmese because first of all, I look like them, and secondly, my name “Nila” sounds like Burmese “Nilar” which means “a blue gemstone or sapphire”.
While I was there, Htaike Htaike took me to Phandeeyar, a community tech hub (also a co-working space) where I got to meet very bright young people who are running amazing tech projects. Htaike happened to give a talk to a few people there about the latest stats and landscape of Myanmar’s mobile tech.
With population of nearly 53 million people, Myanmar, in many eyes, is an attractive destination for a lot of investors and business people. I arrived in Yangon earlier this year, shortly after the assassination of a top muslim lawyer (U Ko Ni) of the country happened at the airport, and I knowingly stood near the spot before I got into my taxi.
A lot of my Myanmar friends are against the terrible treatment of people in Rakhine state. Yes, I also realized after chats with some locals that certain people in Myanmar can have very strong (and often anti-Rohingya) opinions about what has been going on at Rakhine state. Coming from pretty much a homogeneous society/country like Cambodia, I do not have a lot of experience to share (unfortunately except about the Khmer Rouge), but have a lot to learn and discover facts about this huge country which presents wealth of opportunities but also challenges because of ethnic strife and some ongoing armed conflict. The media reports about Rakhine state do not look so good at all, but I hope that other friendly countries will extend more support for the country.
On another note, I was fortunate to learn about/from this country, assist some students in their academic endeavor, and make some good friends there.