FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 20, 2015
BACI Hosted Youth Leadership Program with Burma
INDIANAPOLIS –The Burmese American Community Institute (BACI) hosted the Burmese Youth Leadership Program (BYLP) for two days during a three-week program led by the Office of International Development at Indiana University Bloomington and supported by the U.S. Department of State.
A group of 18 students representing different ethnicities from various institutions in Myanmar participated in the program. Political science, medicine, and business are just a few of the university majors students are studying. During their stay in Indianapolis, students toured and met with representatives of the Indiana State House and the Mayor’s Office in the City of Indianapolis. The university students also exchanged their experiences with local BACI Upward College Program participants. BACI presented a medal of recognition to each visiting student.
In a lecture designed for the visiting students, entitled “Ethnic Conflict and the Road to Democracy in Burma,” BACI Executive Director Salai Elaisa Vahnie urged the student leaders to embrace and appreciate diversity regardless of their ethnic and religious backgrounds. He encouraged the students to be united in purpose and collective action in order to reach the common goal of building a peaceful and prosperous nation.
Vahnie remarked that the best way to build a sustained democratic society and an economically vibrant Burma is through investing in people and education. “A systemic change through constitutional and institutional design is fundamentally important, but there has to be a parallel societal change through the development of democratic society,” Vahnie said.
The program is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The visit was designed to enhance leadership skills and position participants to become effective and engaged citizens upon their return to Myanmar.
“I hope the great leadership of BACI and the things they do here will inspire all visiting students,” said Courtney Hermann of Indiana University’s Office of International Development, which organizes the program.
Since its founding, BACI has fostered a strategic partnership with Indiana University Bloomington, which has a strong history of connection and engagement with Burma. Previously the university’s Office of International Development (OID) administered a scholarship program for Burmese university students from Myanmar that was funded by the U.S. Department of State. The Institute for International Business (IIB) at the IU Kelley School of Business supports Myanmar’s economic transition through a Global Development Alliance project that extends the teaching and outreach capabilities of the Yangon University of Economics and helps micro-to medium-sized business enterprises become successful. The Center for Constitutional Democracy (CCD) at IU Maurer School of Law, led by David C. Williams and Susan H. Williams, has worked with participants in the Burmese democracy movement, opposition parliamentarians, and U.S. government committees focused on Myanmar engagement.
The Burmese American Community Institute (BACI) is a non-profit organization founded in 2011 that provides educational and vocational support to the Burmese community in greater Indianapolis. The BACI strives to support community members regionally, nationally, and globally through strategic partnerships and advocacy.
The Burmese American Community Institute