Have You Packed Your Bags? If Yes, Let’s Take A Look At The Past Six Weeks

By Sessie Burns




Reflection: Part 1

As we get ready to take off on Friday, with only (1) throw clothes in suitcase and (2) get on plane left on the (Burma) to-do list*, it’s a good time to do a little reflecting on the first half of our project. I’ll start with some things I’ve (re)learned as part of this experience:

  • Never leave a meeting with clear “do-outs”- what needs to be done, by whom, and by when. I can go back through the meeting notes and see when we got more done from one week to the next, and it is clearly dependent on the explicitness of the deliverables for the next meeting.
  • Get more opinions than you think you need- this is not always true, but in dealing with the visa situation we found in hindsight that we got poor advice, which led us into a sticky situation. I don’t know that we could have known to get more advice that would have helped us, but I like to believe that there was something we could have done!
  • Be flexible- this is my way of reminding myself as we go into this next week of craziness.


Reflection: Part 2

Join the Burma/Myanmar club! I’ve spent a lot of my limited free time over the past several months doing passive research (read: documentary watching!), and below I picked out a few that stood out to me:

Al Jazeera Investigates – The Hidden Genocide (link to full video on YouTube): A heavy story about the situation of Rohingya Muslims in the Arakan state. Very explicit detail about personal stories of abuse. 

Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown: Bourdain in Myanmar (link to full video on CNN): A lighter adventure into some of the tastes of the country! I’m especially excited to try the milky tea.

Burma VJ (link to the Netflix page, you can read a Rotten Tomatoes review here): Takes you through the events of the Saffron Revolution through the lens (literally!) of video journalists working in secret.

They Call it Myanmar (also linked to Netflix, a link to the movie site here): I was a little bit disappointed by how this documentary skated over issues related to ethnic diversity, but it provides a broad, if simplified, recent history and has beautiful shots of the country.

Reflection: Part 3

This trip would not be possible without a whole lot of people that I will not be able to name here. We got financial support from all over the school, our friends and families, and IEDP alumni. Our friends and professors have been resources and emotional punching bags. Researchers have given countless Skype hours of their time to share their experience with us, and people we have not yet met in Myanmar helped us to secure our visas in addition to inviting us to their organizations. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

–And we’re off! See you soon.–

*Exaggeration- there is no way any of my to-do lists ever have less than five things on them.