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What do you know about Myanmar?

A group of Harvard College students hopes to spark dialogues about a country that seems mysterious to many. The newly formed Harvard Students for Myanmar is a group of undergraduates who are from Burma, have an academic interest in the country, have traveled there, or who may not have any affiliation with the country at all.

With a mission of ‘Talk, Teach, Talent,’ The group hopes to educate the Harvard community about Burma, while also encouraging more Harvard students to intern and work in the country.

The group’s first goal will be to launch a social media campaign. By encouraging students to use the hashtag #askmeaboutmyanmar on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, the group hopes to shed a different light on a country that is frequently misunderstood, according to founder Kyi Zar Thant, Harvard College ’15.

“Most cultural and political projects in the US [focused on Burma] are very much pessimistic,” Thant says, due in part to traditional media having a negative tone in how they report on the country. “We want to be an un-biased middle ground,” Thant says.

Rather than drawing on traditional news sources to teach the Harvard community about Myanmar, the group hopes to encourage discussion about the country with no filter or bias, by sharing unedited blog posts from people who have experienced the country.

The group hopes that instead of turning to news reports on Myanmar, interested students will start a dialogue from someone who has been there. The group will reach out to students, Harvard affiliates, local experts, and even celebrities who have been to the country, and ask them to contribute to the blog, which would not be edited. Each week, a post will be published and shared widely using the hashtag #askmeaboutmyanmar.

The new group, which is in the process of being registered under the Office of Student Life, is not a cultural or political group, in that it is not promoting a specific cause or culture. The goal is to just get people talking about a country that is not well understood.

So far, Thant says, the group has received positive feedback from both students who have traveled to the country, and from students who want to learn more. The group hopes to host several events on campus as part of its awareness campaign, including panels, speakers, and fun cultural events.

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-Meghan Smith