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For those of you who missed out at our last meeting, we had a very special guest speaker. Chris Mynt, a CSULB student, who spoke to us about his native country, Burma (officially known as the Union of Myanmar). In recent times, Burma has been portrayed as a country heavily exploited by its current militaristic regime, and it has been a popular subject amongst human rights groups and activists.
Chris wanted to temporarily steer us away from the media’s portrayal of Burma and, instead, learn about it from a first-hand source. He started off with sharing a brief history of Burma’s past wealth and high status in Southeast Asia, and explained why it is the continent’s poorest country today (mainly due to economic stagnation, isolation, and mismanagement).
Did you know that …
- Burma was once under British colonial rule (hence Chris’s lovely English accent)
- Independence from British rule was followed by a brief period of democracy as an independent republic, 1948-1962
- Since 1962, Burma has been subject to a militaristic regime. Today, many human rights groups and activists are fighting to take down military rule
- Was the 2nd wealthiest in Southeast Asia during British rule, thanks to its once abundant natural resources and rice exports. Today, it is one of the poorest nations in Southeast Asia
- 90% of the world’s rubies come from Burma
- Theravada Buddhism, which is intertwined with local elements, is the Burmese’ main practice of religion
- Bordering neighbors include India, China, Laos, Thailand, Bangladesh. Therefore the country’s culture has been greatly influenced by its surrounding neighbors
- Despite our belief that their government has absolute control over their media, they enjoy American and Asian dramas as much as we do!
- Burma was a popular subject in many pieces of literature, such as George Orwell’s Burmese Days
- There are more than 135 ethnic groups living in Burma!
Thanks Chris for sharing a bit of Burma with us! What do YOU know about Burma?
Posted by Janice Kim (Webmaster)