Future Burmese leadership inspired in NZ
The release of the iconic opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi by the military junta touched the heart of Mhwe Lon (27), who sees it as a sign for change.
“I can’t believe it, I feel like my mother was being set free,” says Mhwe (pictured).
It came at the same time as Mhwe was preparing to join 30 participants in the Asia New Zealand Foundation Young Leaders Forum.
Mhwe is studying at Victoria University for a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in development studies and international relations.
She has been supported with a New Zealand government scholarship and her long term goals are to work in the government in Burma and bring about change and help provide the needs of the people.
Mhwe’s goals led her to being involved in the week-long forum, which culminated in participants racing around the clock to organise a photography exhibition of participants’ photos from Asia at the St James Theatre on November 25.
Applicants had to be between the age of 18-35, have interest in Asia, and have received an award or scholarship and the process included an interview.
“I am so grateful to Asia New Zealand for selecting me for this Forum and giving me the opportunity to be here, it is such a privilege,” says Mhwe, who for eight years has worked for the Mon Women’s Organisation.
Mon is one of the ethnic groups in Burma and while working for the organisation she attended a diplomacy training programme on human rights and business in Australia and represented the Mon women in conferences held in Thailand in 2004.
The conferences included training for peace and non violence strategies to use in dealing with the military dictatorship in Burma.
Mhwe is still working as the international contact person for the Mon Women’s Organisation.
During this Young Leaders Forum Mhwe Lon says she learned many new things and enjoyed her involvement with The Asia New Zealand Foundation.
“This week at the Young leaders Forum I have been inspired to be a more successful person in my life,” says Mhwe.
“I appreciate this experience and have learned a lot, it has been amazing,” says Mhwe.
Mhwe has enjoyed hearing about the different cultures of the other young leaders and feels they were brought closer together by their time together. She hopes to continue the friendships throughout her life.
She says the prepared speakers have opened her mind, particularly New Zealand scientist Sir Paul Callaghan.