Monday, March 9, 2015

What I Did Over January Break: Liz H.

Classes have been back in session for a few weeks, so we asked our student bloggers what they did over their winter break.  Enjoy!

Liz, what did you do over your winter break?
Over the winter holiday break I was fortunate to participate in a SAIS-organized trip to Myanmar, with eleven classmates and one professor from a fall semester class. The program was sponsored by the South Asia Studies department at SAIS, and was part of a course called The Rise of India and China. This course looked at China and India’s rise on the world stage, comparing the two countries’ government structures, education systems, economies and growing issues in both countries, such as growing inequality and the environmental impacts of such rapid industrial growth.
Each year this course includes a trip to a country in which China and India have investment interests, and this year we traveled to Myanmar. Having interned with USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) this past summer and fall, I actually had the opportunity to work with our Myanmar Program Manager and learn about the governance and political transition programs USAID is implementing in the country. So I was especially excited to see Myanmar for myself and learn more about the rapid changes that are happening there since the country re-opened to the world economy only four years ago. 
On the trip we had meetings with a number of companies, government agencies, and embassies. We learned about oil drilling and power plant projects that are being implemented by the Korean company Daewoo and the Indian company Tata. We met with the Myanmar Center for Responsible Business, a think tank run by the former UK Ambassador to Myanmar. We visited the US Embassy and heard from some SAIS alumni about their experience as Foreign Service Officers in Yangon. And we spoke with high level staff from the Myanmar Ministry of Commerce. 
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The trip was a great opportunity to experience a new country and culture and to understand more about the business dynamics in Asia as a number of countries are entering the scene in Myanmar. I also thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the other students in my class! 
–Liz H., SAIS Admissions Student Blogger