America Doing Some Good in the World!

When I think of Myanmar, (actually I think of Burma) I think of a tropical country hidden behind a curtain of oppression & isolation. Burma is a place that I would love to visit – if and when the ruling junta are out of power and Aung San Suu Kyi is no longer under house arrest.

Imagine my surprise when I read in the International Herald Tribune about the American Center, located in Yangon. The American Center is part of the US Embassy and contains a library, reading center, broadband internet center and auditorium showing popular movies. Burmese members of the American Center can even request special books or DVDs. Right now there are over 15,000 members.

America may get a lot of bad press for meddling in other countries’ affairs, but here is an example of an excellent initiative!

As some of you know, I have decided to return to Grad School to get my Masters in Library Science. This story is so inspiring to me because one of the reasons I would like to be a librarian is to ensure that information is equitably available to the people who need it, especially in cases like this.

I am waiting to hear if I have been accepted to Texas Women’s University’s Distance Study Program for Spring 2007. This is the perfect time for me to go back to school as my work schedule is light enough to allow for lots of studying. You may ask how I can study about libraries while living in a small city in China – I asked the same question. Technology, my friends. The future of libraries is on the Internet and computers.

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3 Responses to “America Doing Some Good in the World!”

  1. superkimbo Says:

    You wrote:

    “Burma is a place that I would love to visit – if and when the ruling junta are out of power and Aung San Suu Kyi is no longer under house arrest.”

    Hear, hear! I am very dissappointed that many of my colleagues here in KL either have been (several of them have been multiple times, two recently went for a weekend to purchase rubies) or are planning to visit Burma while they live in SE Asia. Many of them do not even seem to be aware of the human rights abuses that the military dictatorship is guilty of, nor have they heard of Aung San Suu Kyi. I know it’s impossible to be a completely perfect socially responsible traveller, but visiting Burma is inexcusable to me. (In fact, I wrote a post about it recently).

  2. global gal Says:

    I agree! I really couldn’t accept the idea of traveling to Burma to buy rubies.

    I have a friend who visited Burma as part of an NGO/group to train small business workers. While I am not sure of the details, they intended to rely only on locally-owned small businesses for eating and sleeping, to minimize support for the government. This kind of travel I view differently, but I am not sure I would even do this.

    For much the same reasons I will not travel to Cuba, although I had excellent opportunities to do so while living in Costa Rica.

  3. Aung Kyaw Says:

    I found your blog entry on the tag search and I couldn’t resist commenting even though the blog entry’s sort of old now.

    I think the American Center in Rangoon is great–it’s where a lot of my friends in Burma go to catch up on the latest uncensored news.

    But I think you should get to know another viewpoint of travelling to Burma. Burma is such an isolated country that rarely do people get to see what the Burmese are really like, and how they live. And, tourism makes up a very small part of the military government’s total money source. Most of the government’s money comes from the Chinese government through arms dealings, energy sources, South Korean, Chinese, and Thai oil companies, and illegal drugs, not from the 150,000 tourists who come to Burma each year, but it’s a personal decision.

    This article, recently published in the New York Times may help shed the light to a Burmese person’s point of view on cutting off Burma from the world. It’s written by the grandson of UN Secretary-General U Thant, a Burmese. I hope I’m not offensive or too bold.

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