How a group of rustic alumni is educating the world about Myanmar

A group of Rustic Pathways alumni returned home from Myanmar in June where they participated in Dreams of Nation and wanted to do something to share what they learned. They created a website called Stories of Myanmar.

Carey Davis, of Northborough, Massachusetts, is a member of the group that created the site. She answered a few questions about why the group created Stories of Myanmar and what they hope readers take away from the project.

1. This was your fourth consecutive summer traveling with Rustic. Why did you choose Dreams of a Nation in Myanmar?

I was attracted to Dreams of a Nation in Myanmar because it differed from my previous programs. While I learned a lot from my community service trips with Rustic and hope to pursue similar experiences in the future, I found the Critical Issues design compelling. With its concentration on exploring the history and dreams of Myanmar through its people, this program allowed me to explore a country by listening to and conversing with incredible individuals. I also appreciated the emphasis of continuing the experience once I returned home with a project, which would allow me to further reflect as well as share what I learned with others.

2. What during your trip inspired you and your group to create this website and share these stories?

Myanmar is beautiful, but the country shook me in a way I had never experienced. Nestled in the jungles and mountains of Southeast Asia, Myanmar has endured a complex history of lavish kingdoms, brave dissenters, and ideological revolutions. Its people have suffered incredible injustices as their civil liberties were taken away. During our trip, the nuanced term “developing nation” became clear to me. Myanmar’s history isn’t easily explained.

We decided that the most effective way to share our experience was through the people we met. After all, a country is first and foremost the product of its people who shape its way of life with their values and beliefs. Partly inspired by Humans of New York, we designed Stories of Myanmar as a platform to disseminate the narratives of an eclectic group of people who reflect the country itself.

3. What does your group hope to accomplish as a result of creating the site and making these stories accessible?

Through Stories of Myanmar, we hope to expose those who visit the site to an oft-overlooked country. In a world where it’s easier to recognize our differences in order to fuel preconceived ideas, travel illuminates our similarities. We hope people realize that whether someone lives in the town next to you or halfway around the world, there is a human connection between us all. In addition, it’s easy to merely regard another part of the world with simple and expedient explanations collected from an article or movie. Yet no pocket of the world can be summed up neatly. By presenting the stories of the people we met, we hope others will learn about the complexities and differences within each narrative and within Myanmar as a whole.

Visit Stories of Myanmar for more information to read the powerful stories from farmers, political prisoners, school children, politicians, monks, and more. To support the people whose stories they’ve told, Carey’s group has partnered with Save the Children, which has worked since 1995 to improve education, health care, and living conditions for Burmese youth.

Are you looking for a deeper learning experience during your next Rustic Pathways program? Consider our Critical Issues series to explore some of the most pressing issues facing our world by reading more about our programs online or requesting a copy of our 2018 catalog.