The EarthRights School Burma (ERSB) class of 2011 has arrived! The students have completed their orientation to life in Chiang Mai and classes have begun. Their course of study will include subjects such as human rights, government and democratization, women's rights, environmental rights, public speaking, report writing and intensive English.

While most of our past ERSB alumni have come from areas along the Thai-Burma border, this year the majority of the students hail from inside Burma, representing 9 different ethnic groups from throughout the country. Many are already working as community organizers and environmental activists and have committed themselves to a minimum of one year's service with their organizations after completing their training at ERSB.

After their first week of classes, the new students were asked to write about their first impressions and their hopes for the next few months...

"I am very happy that I have a chance to attend this school and I would like to say thank you to all of the staff, teachers and funders that support our school. I have a chance to stay with many different ethnic groups from our country and this also makes me very happy because I have a chance to learn from different cultures and backgrounds. It is also so great to study with other friends and to share our knowledge and learn from each other. I understand that I have a chance to learn in this school so I will try as I must so I can do my duty. I would like to say thanks to all of our teachers and staff for the patience and kindness to the studentsm and also all of my new friends that understand each other and help each other."

"I honestly cannot find the right words to say but I am really touched by the heartfelt welcome of all the staff. I am happy to be a part of this family.  And it goes beyond my expectation. I am really glad I have made the right decision to be here. I am now living in a new home! Thank you, ERI team for everything."

"We do not have limitation which belonging to our skin, education standard and lifestyle. And then I would like to say that ERSB is not like other schools; all people get the chance to learn, to speak and to share their experiences.  Besides this, all of the leaders in ERSB love our Myanmar people and equip us with the tool to be good characters to serve our people. Therefore, I would like to say that we will be the good leaders through learning from ERSB staffs."

"We can see the teaching style of our school is very different from others. We can discuss openly and freely with each other. When I met a lot of people who serve at the border for the minority ethnic groups and the victims of civil war, I was really respectful and proud of all of them.  I am ready to drink the new knowledge, skills and experiences concerning community development from all of my teachers and colleagues."

We wish the new students all the best in the months to come!