April 6, 2010

The Truth About Myanmar Part 1

At the beginning of this blog I told you that I'm in love with Myanmar. It's my country, and I understand it almost better than my own.

The affair began in Grade 11, when I was one of the most experienced members of my Model United Nations (MUN) class*. Because, yes, I'm awesome, I got the toughest assignments our school had ever been given, and certainly one of the most difficult you can actually get, the Advisor of Myanmar in the Advisory Panel on the Question of Myanmar. Yes, a partner and I had to represent the Government, the Junta, in a room full of people who hate you and want to do everything possible to screw you over. I don't care what people say about the Security Council, International Court of Justice, and Officer positions at MUN conferences; nothing can beat that. Anyways, I had to do a lot of research on pretty much everything about the country, and so I know things like that we used to be the number one opium producing country before Afghanistan realized that the straight and narrow is boring and decided to come hang out with us in the Golden Triangle.** I also know that while official literacy rates hover around 35%, in reality its closer to 95%. We just want your development money.

In the course of this research, and a botched trip to what has to be the scariest embassy in the world, I felt a connection. Of course, I am a die hard fan of 'The Lady,' but I can at least understand why the Tatmadaw (see how I slyly added a Burmese word meaning the armed forces? Yeah, I'm cool that way) are so awful and how the International community is doing a terrible job of managing it. I went to the conference, I talked a lot, yelled a bit, and went home. I did more research for a project on Juntas involving a bathtub (don't ask), and read a lot of books. That assignment really got me into international politics and also got me thinking about how cool it would be to go there.

So, when I realized that my Thai visa would expire in a few weeks, I did a bit of research, and casually brought it up in conversation with my mum. She said yes, and thus began my trip of, if not a lifetime, certainly the year.

*Please note that being in MUN does not make me either a power-hungry, manipulative bitch or a nerdy over-achiever. I like to think of myself as being halfway in between.

**Interesting thought; why is it that the US is in a War on Drugs in Colombia when Myanmar and Afghanistan are producing way more? Could it be because no one wants what we have? (yes, I know I just said we)

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