By Josh Levi, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017
Myanmar has been nothing but beautiful and harmonious. Before coming to this place, I was spoon-fed rubbish about the country. Yes, just like most nations, they have experienced some form of revolt and hardships, although, after seeing the country in my own eyes, I can now say I will not judge a country or listen to outside influence until I experience it for myself.
I spent most of my time in Yangon and Bagan. During my time, I had the fortune to tour with my friend’s father and three (3) of his business associates. The five of us hada tour guide who was a local woman who spoke fluent English and a personal driver. Throughout my time, I had the opportunity to see every last thing possible in Yangon and Bagan. We must have driven to over 15 pagodas and other cultural site as well as having delicious meals.
One of my father business associates was Michael Tan, who was coincidentally a social entrepreneur. He runs his own social enterprise, and is my hero. He empowes and provides benefits to those who had not had this in the past.
He is involved in providing the women from Myanmar the opportunity to receive work benefits when travelling to foreign countries (such as Qatar) while they are getting jobs to provide income for their families.
Typicallymiddlementake almost 8 months wages from these workers as payment for the work visas. These workers, usually women, have poor health and housing conditions which is exacerbated to the language barrier. Michaelprovides these women the best opportunity to succeed and diverts funds back to their families in need. He takes substantially les for the visas and ensures that the women are given proper housing and contracts which he helps to negotiate on their behalf.
Myanmar was a real eye-opener for me, and impacted my life in ways I cannot describe. It is beautiful all around with respectful, helpful, and polite people. A destination everyone needs to experience at least once in his/her life.