In May, 14 students began an 8 month journey of study and exploration at the EarthRights School Burma. These 14 students hail from all over Burma, representing 9 different ethnic groups. Their experiences range from the grassroots to INGO level and include topics such as microfinance, agriculture, youth education, social development, environmental conservation and integrated development for cultural minorities.

The opening ceremony, which was attended by ERI staff and friends, including the participants of the Mekong Legal Advocacy Institute, included an introduction to the program, a song performed by the studentsand was concluded with a delicious Burmese meal, where students had the opportunity to share their experiences with staff and MLAI participants.

The students have a rigorous 8 months ahead of them, starting with the study of important topics such as human rights, government, environment, earth rights, rule of law, project proposal planning and design, report writing, grant writing and fact finding. This will be followed by 2 months of field study in Burma, where the students will conduct research for either a grant proposal or a research report. Upon their return, the students will spend time writing their reports or proposals, with extensive one on one help from teachers and advisors. After their reports are completed, they will return to classes and study advocacy, international financial institutions, community development, organization management, international law.

After the first week of classes, the students were asked to give their impressions and their hopes for the coming months. Here are some of their thoughts:

“When we reached to Chaing Mai, we have a chance to meet the teachers in the airport together with their sweetly smiles and invitation. And then when we arrived to school and starting morning class, we met with all of teacher from ERI. So even though it was my first experience, arriving in abroad, I wasn't feeling a lot of worry because of their kindness.”

“I hope, by studying for next few months, I will be have many awareness and understand about our situations, in Myanmar. And also known, what should I do for and how can I serve.”

“I like so much this learning style. Playing game and role play…. Listing to the song….like that , that is very interested to me.”

“As I mentioned in orientation period, my commitment, “I will definitely serve people of Burma with what I will learn from here”. These words are become more concrete after my first week study. I also have more confidence about coming subjects and other things that school will contribute us… Hope my next few months will be unforgettable experiences in my life.”

Please join us in welcoming the ERSB class of 2012!