For the last two months, we’ve had the pleasure and privilege of volunteering at the Zwegabin Myay School in Hpa-An, Myanmar. The school is a scholarship-based, adult 8-month residency program that teaches English through equality, tolerance, and respect. In addition to grammar classes, there are a variety of other modules that teach the students about behaving responsibly and giving back to their communities. Marc and I have been living in this modest school, with the students, and have been completely charmed and humbled by how amazing they are and the by rest of this beautiful country.
Here’s a video of the school grounds.
Marc has taught public speaking and has begun environment lessons, which will be carried on by another teacher. I have been teaching equality – focusing mainly on gender and diversity in the beginning, but moving on to cover ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation with the next teacher. Our discussions continue to be more and more enlightening each week and are a really interesting look into the culture.
Another plus to living with the students, we get to go on excursions with them on the weekends, see their late night shenanigans, watch movies, answer the most random questions, and feel like part of their family.
It’s so cliche to go to a country and say “oh, they were the nicest people.” I don’t throw this around lightly – Myanmar people are truly the nicest people (read our post about it here). Funny, caring, curious, giving, and spunky! The students are easily, hands down, the highlight of my travels these past several months. We are so sad to leave their beaming faces, but they are in good hands of other teachers and have bright futures ahead of them. And we need to start making our way home…eventually…soon, something like that. This was not part of our original travel plans, but I found the school and couldn’t stop thinking about the program and their mission. I’m so glad we decided to extend our travels and be a part of this school.
This program changes lives! It’s entirely run by donations and is of no cost to the students; they come from very small villages or refugee camps and could not afford a high quality education otherwise. The organization also has many connections with NGOs in Myanmar, and alumni can often find jobs after graduation with organizations that are doing great work for refugees, marginalized people, and communities in need. The budget is very small. The students cook all meals here in the school, and their food budget is $14 a day to feed 30 people, 3 meals a day – that’s $0.15 per person, per meal. If you are feeling charitable and looking for a meaningful cause, I invite you to consider donating to this amazing program. Every cent is meaningfully spent.