FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 3, 2016
INDIANAPOLIS, MAY 3, 2016 – For the third year, the Burmese American Community Institute (BACI) hosted the Myanmar Youth Leadership Program led by the Office of International Development at Indiana University Bloomington.
A group of 20 Burmese representing different ethnicities from various institutions in Myanmar participated in the two day program. Engineering, history, and law are just a few of the degrees the students are pursuing. During their stay in Indianapolis, students toured and met with representatives of the Indiana State House and exchanged their experiences with local BACI Upward College Program participants.
In a lecture designed for the visiting students entitled, “Towards Developed Democratic Society in Myanmar: Investing Future through Education and Leadership,” BACI Executive Director Elaisa Vahnie emphasized that investing in people and education best guarantees long-term social-economic development and a sustainable democratic society. “A fundamental change through constitutional reform is needed in Myanmar, but it must go parallel with societal change through the development of democratic norms and values and it begins right here, with you,” Vahnie told the student leaders.
He encouraged the students to be united in purpose and principle in order to reach the common goal of building a peaceful and prosperous nation, and to reject any party that tries to utilize ethnoreligious extremism as a tool to achieve their political objectives. Vahnie remarked that in a country like Myanmar, formed with extremely diverse ethnic groups, it is important that a broad-based and inclusive economic growth policy priorities are adopted and all citizens embrace unity in diversity with mutual respect and recognition, regardless of one’s ethnic and religious background.
The talk also touched on a melting pot America example where people of different backgrounds coming from around the world are very proud of being American. The young leaders were urged to support State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s call for the 21st Century type Panlong Peace Conference.
BACI Board Chair, Dr. Ro Ding, was on hand to present a medal of recognition to each visiting student.
“It is inspiring to watch these young people make connections and build relationships that will no doubt lead to impactful results for Myanmar’s development. By channeling resources in both the US and Myanmar, these next generations will have the tools and opportunities to do great things together,” said Courtney Hermann of Indiana University’s Office of International Development, which organizes the program.
The Youth Leadership 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.
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.